RIM UK chief: 2013 most important year in company’s history

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RIM’s UK and Ireland MD Rob Orr has said this year is its most important, as analysts warn BB10 could be ‘dead’ within three months of launch

Research In Motion (RIM) UK and Ireland MD Rob Orr has labelled 2013 as the most significant period in the manufacturer’s 29-year history, as it prepares for the launch of its new BB10 operating system.

Orr, who became MD six months ago, made the admission when discussing his views on what to expect from the mobile sector this year.

He said: “The mobile industry is set for another highly competitive and dynamic year as technological developments continue to progress at a rapid pace. For us, 2013 is one of – if not the most – significant years in our history with the launch of our new platform.”

His comments highlight the importance of the new, and much-delayed, operating system which is set to launch on January 30.

The OS was originally scheduled to launch in Q2 last year but was put back, first to Q3 and then to Q1 of this year.

The delays have meant RIM has not released any new devices since May, when it launched the BlackBerry Curve 9320. In the meantime, rivals Samsung and Apple have each enjoyed global successes with the Galaxy S III and iPhone 5 respectively.

Uncertainty

Analysts who spoke to Mobile News have dubbed the success of BB10 as “make or break” for the firm, citing the fact it has experienced losses of more than $100 million in its last quarterly financial results for Q3, posted in December, as well as more than a million disconnections.

Its UK market share is currently around 6.5 per cent, down 10.4 per cent year on year.

Informa principal analyst Malik Saadi told Mobile News any failure in the OS, including marketing, could see it dead within three months of launch.

He said: “It really is make- or-break time for RIM. If they can’t attract customers in the first three months after launch, BlackBerry 10 will be dead. If the perception of the OS isn’t positive right away, they won’t have time to correct that. They have gambled a lot on the new devices.”

CCS Insight founder Shaun Collins agreed: “If RIM wants to continue as a mobile devices company, BB10 simply has to work. The market has been defecting from RIM for some time. I fear for them.”

Ovum chief telecoms analyst Jan Dawson added while he expects the OS to provide an uplift for the firm, it will only offer a temporary reprieve.

He said: “RIM will see a brief bump in its results during 2013, but with the overall trajectory the company is on it will continue its downward slope after that. In other words, BB10 will provide a temporary boost in performance but no salvation for RIM.”

Optimism

The airtime and hardware distribution channel, however, remains upbeat about RIM’s chances of succeeding in 2013.

Carphone Warehouse Business head of partners Bob Sweetlove said he expects the launch of BB10 will enable RIM to “take the challenge” to Apple and Google’s “dominance”. Data Select director of marketing Jason Kemp believes RIM has now put itself “back in the game” with the improvements made to the OS, and he expects the manufacturer to break up the “two-horse race” between Apple and Samsung in 2012, across both consumer and B2B channels.

Avenir Telecom MD Andy Tow also expects to see a “resurgence” from BlackBerry this year. He said BB10 puts the manufacturer in a perfect position for refocusing its attention on B2B.

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