Research In Motion (RIM), makers of the once-dominant BlackBerry platform, has announced the launch date of its BlackBerry 10 phones to be January 30 by all the major US carriers except Sprint, who has promised a BB10 phone later in the year. Many analysts believe that this launch is the last-ditch effort by RIM to regain relevance in an industry dominated by iPhone and Android devices, and just as many have already counted them out.
What this means for you:
If you are one of the dwindling BlackBerry faithful, there is a lot to whet your (by now, monstrous) appetite: the new RIM OS modern look and all new code-base (supposedly no carry-over code from older RIM OS’s) will hopefully update BlackBerry’s staid, corporate image. However, the new BB10 phones have multiple strikes against them:
- Developers for the “staple” apps (Facebook, Google, Netflix, etc) will undoubtedly develop versions of their omnipresent apps because they can fund the development off the backs of their profitable iOS and Android counterparts, but don’t expect surprise hits from indie developers appearing on BB10 first – there just isn’t a large enough userbase to warrant the investment gamble. RIM has sponsored some recent events to kickstart development, but proof will be in whether BB10’s launch will be a repeat of Microsoft’s Windows Phone lackluster debut.
- BlackBerry’s current infrastructure has some serious redudancy flaws that has led to some titanic outages. Once viewed as the most reliable platform in the early days of smartphones, the series of recent, widespread outages has severely tarnished RIM’s image.
- RIM has been lapped by Apple and Google, OS-wise, at least 2 to 3 times now. RIM is just launching a competitor to phone OS’s that were developed years ago. Unless this horse can fly, there is no way BB10 is catching iOS6 or Jelly Bean in this race.
I suspect that RIM isn’t quite done – they still have a nice chunk of the market, but they aren’t going to supplant iPhones or Androids anytime soon.