This week RIM made a quick announcement for the BlackBerry Curve 9320. It seems odd for RIM to announce a new BlackBerry 7 device right after its big BlackBerry 10 event. Of course, there are many issues at play here, and they mostly look beyond the North American smartphone user. But the 9320 release did make me think: are people going to wait for BlackBerry 10? Contract terms In North America and elsewhere in the world, we sign contracts with cellular carriers. In exchange for pledging our service to them for two or three years, they provide us a steep discount on our phones. Whenever our terms are up, we’re eligible to upgrade our phones. Plenty of contracts will expire between now and the BlackBerry 10 release, and many of them will be BlackBerry users. Will they wait? Perhaps the better question is, will you wait if your contract expires before BlackBerry 10? Surely you won’t buy a BlackBerry 7 phone at this point. Maybe a new adopter, looking for an entry level phone, would pick up something like the Curve 9320. But to buy a 9930 right now? That seems a bit odd, considering we’re just a few months away from a vastly better platform. But when we’re stuck with a phone for two years and are afforded an opportunity to upgrade, it’s tough to pass up. The concept of cellular contracts does bring up another issue. It’s an important one, considering the focus RIM has put on BlackBerry 10 BlackBerry 7 support Many people upgraded to BlackBerry 7 smartphones in the last few eight or nine months. When they made that upgrade, chances are they signed two-year contracts. Yet after just one year, RIM will release BlackBerry 10 devices. The focus will shift to them. What, then, will become of BlackBerry 7? Will owners be stuck with a stagnant platform for another year before their contract term is up? Thankfully, RIM isn’t going to hang its customers out to dry. At BlackBerry World CEO Thorsten Heins did note that RIM will continue to support BlackBerry 7 devices. You might not see many new apps for them, since developers will be more focused on BlackBerry 10. But nor will you see an abandonment of the platform. You’ll still be able to get support, and RIM will still work on software updates. Part of this is because RIM is still going to push BlackBerry 7 in emerging markets. That’s kind of the point with devices like the 9320 and the 9220. They’re meant for people who are buying a smartphone for the first time. If RIM is going to continue pushing these smartphones in smaller markets, they’ll have the resources to support them in larger ones. That’s a sigh of relief for those who jumped on the BlackBerry 7 wagon. The waiting It might not be tempting to use an upgrade on a BlackBerry 7 device, but BlackBerry users will certainly be tempted before BlackBerry 10 drops. New Android devices get released seemingly on a weekly basis, and many of them are top of the line smartphones. They have quad-core processors and vibrant displays. And it seems every manufacturer is getting in on it. You won’t just see high-end devices from Samsung and HTC. There will be plenty of quad-core LG cell phones as well. The selection alone will make people wonder. And, even though many BlackBerry fans openly disdain the iPhone, the iPhone 5 will probably tempt many. Who knows: maybe some of the features contained in the iPhone 5 will be to a BlackBerry fan’s liking. Perhaps that’s why RIM got out in front of the game and showed off BlackBerry 10 at BlackBerry World, despite no phone being available for another five months. In any case, the waiting, in the words of Tom Petty, will be the hardest part. Will BlackBerry fans be able to wait it out for BB10?