Research In Motion’s bet-the-company moment comes Jan. 30 when the company releases it next-generation devices running the new BlackBerry
10 operating system.
The company said Monday the launch date for the new platform will be Friday, Jan. 30 in multiple countries.
There is little doubt the new handsets – one with a touch screen, one with the traditional keyboard – will be an advance in smart phones.
The question is will it be too little, too late.
In its home territory of Canada and the United States and in parts of Europe customers are dropping BlackBerry as the corporate standard, leaving staff free to chose their own devices.
As a result, sales of Apple iPhones and Android-powered handsets have soared. At the same time consumers have also switched to those platforms.
Globally, BlackBerry’s share of the market has dropped to single digits.
It won’t help in the short term that BB 10 – which has missed two expected launch dates -- will miss this year’s holiday shopping season, which has just started.
However, CEO Thorsten Heins insisted that the platform has to go to market with all functions expected by buyers ready to go.
The company learned the hard way with the rush to get the PlayBook tablet to market without a native email client that its target market wouldn’t tolerate anything less. If that meant missing a key shopping period, so be it.
There is considerable scepticism among industry and financial analysts on whether BB 10 can save RIM from being swallowed up by another company or from it having to break itself apart.
Some believe the lead iPhone and Android have in the market is too great to overcome, especially in a BYOD era where, for most employees, IT departments consider the security of those platforms good enough.
It’s only a minority of corporate users who need the FIPS-level security that BB 10 recently achieved.
Similarly, the popularity of BlackBerry Messenger among consumers is waning.
A lot of BB 10’s future depends not only on how cellular carriers prices the devices, but also how they price data packages.
On the enterprise side, BB 10 will not initially work with the existing BlackBerry Enterprise servers used by organizations. BB 10 devices will be managed under BlackBerry Device Service. BlackBerry Fusion which will unify the two enterprise management environment, isn't expected until the spring.