Today is launch of Research In Motion's Blackberry 10 operating system. As we have reported in the past this is a much needed overhaul to get RIM back in the game with a market dominated by iOS and Android devices.
The Blackberry 10 hype has been positive for the company, with stock almost tripling in value over the last four months. Hopes are that the new OS and range of phones will drive the company forward into a new era.
So far the comments have been mainly positive, with reviewers mentioning browser speed and the intuitive keyboard on RIM's new touchscreen. We have felt for a while now, that Blackberry should have launched with a full, physical QWERTY keyboard to attract the business audience which once made the majority of their sales. RIM have said that a physical keyboard smartphone will be released in the next generation.
Blackberry was once one of the most popular smartphones on the global market, but since the iPhone launched in 2007, it has subsided into irrelevance. The consumer audience are driven by functionality, and Blackberry have lagged behind now for many years.
Kevin Burden, head of mobility at Strategy Analytics said “I really do believe that the consumer market as a whole is ready for something new. I have to believe that there is some level of user fatigue that plays into the longevity of some of these platforms. RIM is probably timing it right.”
He may have a point. The fading Nokia managed to report their first quarterly profit thanks to the new Lumia 920 handset which has proven popular with the high end smartphone audience, running Windows 8.
Technically, RIM have a huge battle ahead. Their shares are 90 percent below a peak in 2008, rating at $150 a share. It will take time before investors can determine if RIM's big gamble has paid off.
RIM's market share collapsed in the last three years. Their smartphone market share is around 3-3.5 percent according to various analytics firms. This is down from 20 percent three years ago.
Their popularity in America has waned dramatically. Their fourth-quarter North American market share has fallen to 2 percent from more than 40 percent three years ago.
RIM are holding their main Blackberry launch in New York, with the hopes of sparking the imagination of the American audience. There are six simultaneous launch events in six cities across the globe.
RIM are spending a lot of cash on a Super Bowl advert, again targeting the important American audience.
As yet, no information on pricing has been made available, however this should be made clear later today.
According to CNBC “Scotiabank analyst Gus Papageorgiou feels RIM has a good chance of a comeback. He says the new BB10 operating system outpaces Apple's iOS platform and Google's market-leading Android system in every category except app selection and content.
“There is, we believe, huge potential for the platform and devices to bring people back to BlackBerry or draw entirely new users into the platform,” said Papageorgiou, who has a “sector outperform” rating on the stock.”
The strength of both iOS and Android is based around the App Store platforms and it is clear Blackberry 10 will not be able to compete on the sheer number available, but RIM have said that the operating system will have the ‘largest application library for any new platform at launch', with more than 70,000 apps available. Companies such as Universal Music, Sony Pictures, Walt Disney Studios and Warner Music group have already pledged their support.
Canada's top wireless carrier Rogers have said that pre-orders for the new BB10 smartphones has been strong, and ‘already in the thousands'.
Kitguru says: BB10 to do well? We hope so. Variety is good.