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Industry reacts to BlackBerry 10 launch

Samantha Tomaszczyk
January 30, 2013

Ahead of RIM’s launch of its new operating system and handset Z10 later today (coverage to follow), we ask industry analysts and those who will be selling if it will be enough to revive the struggling manufacturer

RIM is to unveil its new operating system, BlackBerry 10, and handset Z10 at a press event in London later today (full coverage to follow).

Ahead of the launch, Mobile News asked industry experts if the new OS will be enough to help RIM recover, or if it is too little, too late.

Here’s what they said:

Geoff Blaber

Mobile device software analyst, CCS Insight

It’s clear RIM has got a good operating system, but it’s fair to say there are still a number of looming questions. Execution is going to be absolutely crucial if they are going to stand a long-term chance in this market. And although the OS is undoubtedly one very important piece, it is only one piece of the puzzle and RIM is keeping a lot of its powder dry in terms of other parts of the story around contents and services and specific elements of its proposition. Until we see those it is quite difficult to judge how competitive it will be in Q1.

In terms of applications, RIM has got a reasonably assured strategy there. Android-based applications will be cleared for the BlackBerry World marketplace, to ensure there is a fuller range of apps than we saw for the PlayBook at launch.

It certainly looks like they’ll be in a better position to compete, but they are facing some formidable competition and the OS is just one piece that they need.

Ronan de Renesse

Principal analyst for mobile content, Analysys Mason

RIM is struggling and needs something new and refreshing to reposition itself in the market and regain consumers. BB10 is a good example of how RIM is trying to do that. I have heard good things about the OS and good feedback from those who have used it. But on the other side, you also need to look at the devices that will be available, how they will be rolled out and which price points they will have.

Q4 is a big quarter for all the smartphones and BlackBerry missed that.

What people need to remember when talking about BB10 is you will have to compare it with new Apple and Samsung devices that may launch in Q2 this year.

BlackBerry is well positioned if it can provide a good range of devices at good price points to capture the emerging markets.

A good operating system is not enough. It is a base for building your market share – a lot more things need to be in place.

Malik Saadi

Principal analyst, Informa

BB10 has some very interesting features, for example the messaging hub – it has the ability to let users multi-task in a way no other operating system can so far. So when it comes to messaging they have done a lot of good work.

But by now all competing operating systems have not only managed to create very interesting messaging hubs but on top of that they are trying to spoil their customers with music hubs, video hubs and very rich application stores. RIM still has a very old-fashioned way of presenting music and video. For this reason I believe RIM’s strategy is still built on an old strategy targeted at their existing customer base. I doubt very much whether it has the ability to extend beyond that customer base.

The potential for BB10 at the moment is not emerging markets, it’s winning back lost customers in developed markets. This is where it should be working hard – getting customers back.

Ian Fogg

Senior principal analyst, IHS Global Insight

RIM has to create hardware good enough to compete with other hardware makers such as HTC, Samsung, Motorola, Sony and Apple. But the bigger challenge is they need to have a smartphone operating system, software and apps which are competitive. And that’s really where the struggle is. We know RIM can make good enough hardware, the question is can they make compelling next-generation software as well? We won’t actually know until it’s released how good it really is. What we do know is there is an opportunity for a third platform alongside Android and Apple. But by the time BlackBerry 10 launches, all of the other platforms will have improved and there will be new Android smartphones available.

RIM has to work out how to position the BB10 devices where RIM is still very strong but also needs to appeal to corporates that are very value-sensitive and want to get cheap handsets to keep their costs down.

Roberta Cozza

Research director, consumer devices, Gartner

The BlackBerry platform will enable RIM to come to the market with a more competitive product.

The issue is, could it be too late for RIM given that consumers are largely choosing Android and the Apple ecosystem?

We believe RIM will continue to be challenged.

They will be successful enough to get a meaningful number of [app] developers, the future hinges around their ability to get developers to make applications for BB10. Without this things are going to be tough.

RIM at first are targeting quite high-end users. This platform is really built to support high-end devices. They [high-end users] care about apps, content, the ecosystem. For that set RIM will still be challenged as it will be compared to the Apple and Android ecosystem.

We think that for a developer, RIM will be the fourth choice in the market behind iOS for the monetisation, Android for the volumes and then Windows.

Graeme Wintle

Director, ByteSnap Design

RIM has got its work cut out to beat Android and iOS and the acid test will be when devices are available. To stand out, BB10 will need to be an OS that has strong technical features including backwards and cross-device compatibility, just like Android. If it isn’t compatible with older BlackBerry apps for example, as a developer, I am going to be drawn to Android or iPhone apps even more.

RIM’s support for running Android applications through the BlackBerry convertor is going to be a great help by supporting many existing applications, but is it enough? With BB10, RIM has changed the underlying framework that BlackBerry apps are developed on – this is going to make it much harder for existing BlackBerry developers who are familiar with the older Java approach to move to the new C/C++ platform. BlackBerry developers are going to need a lot of help from RIM to port their apps to 10 and without that help, RIM runs the risk of losing more developers to iOS and Android.

Chen Kotecha

Managing director, Scancom

We are desperate for it to come out. I think it will capitalise on RIM’s strengths in the enterprise area. I also like the flow of BB10 – from what we have seen it looks excellent. It is an operating system that allows you to approach your data from any angle.

If you add that to RIM’s current infrastructure, its operating centre, it will win back many RIM enterprise clients. The ability to switch from work to play will appeal.

I do not mind a Q1 launch because we are working in the enterprise sector. The Q1 timing is perfect for the enterprise space, it is when it comes to life.

BB10 is far more secure than Android, and it is also very fluid. You do not have to keep going back five screens – I think RIM has learnt from the past few years.

It could compete with Apple and Android outside of the enterprise market, but does it need to? The enterprise market itself will generate enough interest.

Mo Hussain

Managing director, Mobile Fun

It is more unlikely than likely that this will revive RIM’s fortunes. It is a case of ‘too little too late’.

There is a risk it has taken too long and the market will leave it behind. They are not getting ahead, they are bringing out something that is just about up to scratch.

RIM is aware of the application problem, as it is offering $10,000 to developers as an incentive. They need to do that, so I think that is a shrewd move.

If RIM has a single-digit share of the market, it will be hard to maintain developers’ interest, and they will have to keep those incentives open. They are going about it the right way by offering incentives.

The demonstrations look very good, the mechanism is very flowing.

The right move would be to target enterprise only. The BYOD mentality fits in with BB10 – as it has a personal mode and a work mode, it shows they have thought about how to get some penetration.


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