by Brad Moon | January 30, 2013 11:57 am
Anyone with even a passing familiarity with the mobile industry knows the backstory to Research In Motion’s (NASDAQ:RIMM) big reveal this morning.
The smartphone pioneer ceded serious ground in the consumer space to Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) and companies using Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android. It fell hopelessly behind, repeatedly delayed new operating system and smartphones, began losing that core business/government client base, replaced co-CEOs (including one company co-founder) and watched its stock tank 95% in four years.
It all comes down to this: The new BB10 operating system and new launch phones.
How’d RIM do?
Research In Motion is rebranding itself. Its new name will be BlackBerry, and its Nasdaq-listed ticker will change from RIMM to BBRY. To keep double-takes at a minimum, I’m sticking with RIM/RIMM for this story.
RIM’s 2010 acquisition of QNX has finally paid off with a new, modern mobile operating system to take on Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and Microsoft’s (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8. Among the BB10 highlights:
And, as expected, RIMM unveiled two new BB10 smartphones this morning.
RIMM repeatedly dissed touchscreen devices like the iPhone with their virtual keyboards and never had much success with its own versions. The new BlackBerry Z10 is a huge step forward for RIMM. It’s finally got the power to compete and looks good; even Gizmodo, which is known for often unflattering BlackBerry coverage, said that while previous BlackBerries were “disgraceful ugly bricks,” the new Z10 is “hotter than the iPhone.”
A physical QWERTY keyboard has been a key BlackBerry feature since day one. While customers have largely turned to touchscreen devices, there still are loyal fans of RIMM’s old-school tactile approach, so a QWERTY model was a requirement.
After the actual product reveals, the single most important question is when? At the rate RIMM is losing market share, every day counts. The sooner the new devices get onto shelves, the sooner existing customers can upgrade and the sooner potential new customers can choose a BlackBerry over an iPhone or Galaxy S.
According to RIMM, the touchscreen Z10 will be available tomorrow in the U.K., on Feb. 5 in Canada, but the critical U.S. market will have to wait until March. The QWERTY keyboard Q10 wasn’t specifically mentioned, but speculation has a release in April.
No-one is expecting to see iPhone-level lineups for the new BlackBerries, but analysts will be watching the sales numbers closely and comparing them against recent iPhone 5 and Samsung (PINK:SSNLF) Galaxy S III launches.
For a look at what others are saying about the launch, check out this host of review snapshots on The Techblock.
As of this writing, Brad Moon did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.
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