A year ago it would have faced an uphill battle against iPhone and Android handsets in a bid to get enterprise users and so-called pro-sumers. The task isn’t any easier today.
In December following the release of RIM’s latest quarterly financial results, financial analyst Michael Walkley of Canaccord Genuity wrote investors that there’s a “very low probability the market will support RIM’s new mobile computing ecosystem.”
At the time he believed there will be a short-term sales bounce from BlackBerry 6 and 7 users wanting to upgrade, but facing pressure from low-cost Android smart phones BB10 can’t return RIM to what he called “sustainable profitability.”
His prediction: The Waterloo, Ont.-based company will be sold. Whether it will be cut into pieces or be only a niche player was unsaid.
On the other hand, others are seeing light around the corner. They praise new CEO Thorsten Heins’ steady hand and ability to execute his business plan after taking over from co-CEOs Mike Lazaridis Jim Balsillie and just over a year ago.
The optimists are betting BB10 will give RIM a second life, although that doesn’t mean it won’t be sold.
But hopeful signs include increasing work from software developers creating new BB10 apps or converting existing ones to the new platform.
“There’s definitely a lot of interest out there,” in BB10, says Deepak Chorpa, CEO and co-founder of Clearbridge Mobile Inc., a Woodbridge, Ont.,-based mobile application developer whose clients include other software companies and what he described as major U.S.-based media companies. “And the interest is getting stronger.”
About six months ago two-thirds of its work was developing apps for Apple’s iOS platform, while the rest was for Android, he said. Today, work on apps for the three operating systems is roughly equal.
“BlackBerry 10 has become one of our biggest revenue drivers in a short time, Chorpa said. “We see that momentum continuing through the rest of the year.”
In addition to doing work for customers, Clearbridge is creating apps to “show off the platform” to potential customers – for example, the way all messaging is managed through BlackBerry Hub, the ability to “peek” at an incoming email to catch its essence and then “flow” into it from any open app.
“We think the BlackBerry 10 platform will get Research In Motion back in the game,”
he said. “By launching the newest platform they’ll have one of the most advanced platforms ... There’s definitely an opportunity to grab back a number of the BlackBerry users that have left the platform in the last couple of years,” he said, and gain new users on top of that.