RIM pins hopes on BlackBerry 10 launch
New Delhi: BlackBerry maker RIM will launch its new platform on January 30, a move that analysts feel is crucial for the company that has seen market share declining steadily in the smartphone category.
The Canada-based company will unveil its 'BlackBerry 10' operating system and handsets powered by the new platform as it tries to protect ground in a market now led by Apple's iPhone and phones based on Google's Android operating system.
"BlackBerry 10 launch is definitely an important one for the company. They have created a lot of buzz around the platform with their marketing activities, done a lot of customer shows and revamped their application store.
"We'll have to wait and watch how the market responds to it," IDC Principal Analysts Sanchit Vir Gogia said.
The launch is also important for Thorsten Heins, who took over as RIM's CEO in 2012 just under a year ago.
RIM's stocks have taken a beating, declining close to 72 percent from over USD 61 apiece in January 2010 to USD 17.54 on January 25, 2012. It had fallen to as low as USD 6.30 in September 2012.
In July-September period of 2012, Android had a market share of 72.4 percent compared to 52.5 percent in the year-ago period, according to research firm Gartner.
Apple's iOS market share came down to 13.9 percent from 15 percent in July-September 2011, while RIM's share came down from 11 percent to 5.3 percent in the third quarter of 2012.
The company, on its part, is geared up for the launch. Its website's homepage depicts a sleek black device alongside the caption: "The Blackberry Experience. Re-designed. Re-engineered. Re-invented."
BlackBerry 10 devices will feature touchscreen as well as ones with keyboards.
RIM is betting big on touchscreen with its new User Interface (UI) and other features like BlackBerry Balance, industry experts said.
With the new OS, RIM has not only revamped the entire look and feel of its application store, but also rechristened it as BlackBerry World.
BlackBerry App Store has been under criticism for lack of content, especially in comparison to its counterparts -- Android's Play Store and Apple's App Store.
BlackBerry, which for long been touted as an enterprise device, will introduce 'BlackBerry Balance' that will allow users separate professional data and applications from music, photographs and other personal items. The new devices will also feature enhanced camera features.
"BlackBerry, which has its share of loyalists in corporate and government sector, will target these customers first. Though it has facing stiff competition from the likes of Samsung and Apple, it is trying its level best to get back into the race," said an industry observer.
Echoing similar views, Gogia said RIM still has a strong following of business users who prefer its keyboard and reputation of strong network security.
Contrary to its global performance, RIM has done well in India, driven by adoption in the youth segment.
"RIM has seen strong connect with the youth, especially with its instant messenger 'BBM'. BB10 will surely have its takers in India," Gogia said.
As per CyberMedia Research, RIM's market share in Indian smartphone market stood at 12.1 percent during January-June 2012 period.