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BB10 launches tomorrow: a return to form for RIM?

For many people Blackberry smartphones have dropped off the radar. Research In Motion are hoping that their launch of Blackberry 10 tomorrow will change everything.

They are promising a faster series of devices which will offer a great typing experience and the ability to keep personal and work identities separate on the same phone. The Canadian company have been slow to catch up with the main players in the smartphone market, but they seem confident that the new operating system will help drive sales. Repeated delays have done nothing to help the company, and the iOS and Android market share now seems so dominant we wonder if the company can do anything to cause a ripple.

Thorsten Heins, CEO of RIM will be showcasing the first BB10 smartphone in New York on Wednesday the 30th of January. A high profile marketing campaign is planned which includes a Super Bowl ad.

So far, previews of the new BB10 operating system have received mainly positive reviews. Research In Motion stock has almost tripled to $16.18 from a nine year low in September, although it is still nearly 90 percent below their 2008 peak of $147.

It would be a real shame to lose such an iconic brand as BlackBerry. Their range of smartphones were very popular 10 years ago, and adopted by many business men who needed cutting edge email support on the move. The use of physical QWERTY keyboards was also a strong selling point. The president of America, Barack Obama apparently couldn’t part with his when he took office. Talkshow host Oprah Winfrey said it was one of her ‘favourite things’.

It may be hard to contemplate now, but there was a time when they had the nickname of ‘CrackBerry’. They were that popular.

The iPhone marked the downfall for Blackberry smartphones. In 2007 Apple created a phone that could do so much more than just deal with email and make phone calls. Games, music and movies were key on the ‘features list’. Then Android was released to offer a similar solution to a wider ‘non Apple’ audience.

The Blackberry subscriber worldwide base peaked at 80 million. Research firm IDC recorded shipment drops from 46 percent in 2008 to 2 percent in 2012. Staggering declines in a four year period. The majority of smartphones being used today are either iOS or Android.

The new range of Blackberry phones have been slow to arrive. The company have had to announce delays. Initially they were meant to launch early 2012, but the company delayed until late 2012. A few months later, another announcement was made to early 2013 missing the end of year sales. These delays cost $70 billion in shareholder wealth and more than 5,000 jobs.

Thorsten Heins will showcase the phone on Wednesday with availability shortly afterwards. No prices have been confirmed yet.

Rick Costanzo, RIM’s executive vice president of global sales said “Historically there have been areas that have not been our strongest points. Not only have we caught up, but we may even be better than some of the competition now.”

Kitguru says: Its make or break time.

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