It’s been a horrendous year for Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), which has seen shares fall 40% year-to-date, but the past few weeks have seen a nearly 20% rally, including a nice bump today on news the company has finally set a BlackBerry 10 launch date.
The company’s new BlackBerry 10 smartphones are expected to hit the market on Jan. 30 — a positive sign, in light of the multiple delays, but is it enough to get the company back on track?
That might be a pretty big reach.
That Jan. 30 launch date means RIMM will miss the Christmas season, as well as the budgeting period for many corporations, who usually plan out spending during the fourth quarter.
So much for two really big sources of interest.
In the meantime, RIMM finds itself another holiday season behind some of its biggest competitors. Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) still has a headlock on the high-end market with its iPhone 5. Samsung is increasingly becoming a thorn in everyone’s side with its Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android phones. Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows 8 phones are already out the door, plus the company is working on its own hardware.
Meanwhile, RIMM remains nonexistent in the tablet market — another crowded market that’s heavy on Apple and Samsung, but also has additional competition from Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) and Barnes & Noble (NYSE:BKS), with more potential contenders on the way.
While the mobile space is a huge market and will only continue to grow at a brisk pace, it’s getting tougher to stand out in the crowd. Smartphones and tablets need to offer compelling prices at affordable prices at blazing speeds. RIMM has shown little success on any of these fronts.
That’s why the company has been relegated to a marginal player at only 4.3% of the global smartphone market, according to research firm IDC.
Listen. It’s entirely possible the company will have a breakout hit with its BB10 models, but by missing the all-important fourth quarter, it’ll be tough to get much traction considering how many potential customers will already have fresh new phones.
Expect RIMM to languish and mostly feed off its existing corporate user base. It might gain a little more stability from BB10, but long-term investors need not apply — the only way to play this is for the temporary pops on the stock going forward.
Tom Taulli runs the InvestorPlace blog IPOPlaybook, a site dedicated to the hottest news and rumors about initial public offerings. He is also the author of “How to Create the Next Facebook.“ Follow him on Twitter at @ttaulli. As of this writing, he did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.