The world waits with bated breath to discover the fate of Research In Motion’s BlackBerry 10 experiment. It is indeed a make-or-break situation for the Canadian company and a lot hinges on the reception the new OS receives when it is unveiled today.
Calling BB10 just an OS, though, is an understatement. For RIM, this is a change in direction. The gesture-based UI, the multi-tasking and the innovations in keyboard and camera all seem to point to the fact that RIM really put their heads together to figure out a way to beat the Android-iOS duopoly. BB10 seems like a very capable OS that will launch with the best apps that are currently on rival platforms as well as new ones made especially for it.
The BB10 launch is upon us
However, one thing's for sure. RIM has finally got something right after a long time: the timing of the launch. Last year, RIM’s new OS would have drowned in the sea of Galaxy S3s, iPhone 5s and Jelly Bean. Apple’s smartphone was launched in September and the Galaxy S3 a few months before that. It would have been hard for RIM’s new OS to stand up for itself at that time, when the noise levels in the tech world were already high. Plus, there was the imminent launch of Windows Phone 8 and the much-hyped Lumia handsets. Launching a new platform back then would have been catastrophic. And in any case, the damage done by the bad press BlackBerry’s last devices received had to be remedied. There’s no reason to believe yet that BB10 will change all that and we will have to wait for the final devices and software to be certain. But the general impression is that things will change for the better.
Another factor going for RIM before today’s launch is the fall in Apple’s sales, stock and image. Somehow, Cupertino has managed to undo a lot of good that Steve Jobs did in his final years and has sort of bungled up the brand image. Apple shares dropped 10.1 percent to $462.17 last week as the technology giant fell short of Wall Street's revenue forecast for the third straight quarter. This is largely due to a declining trend in iPhone sales, while Q4 2012 sales were poorer than analysts expected. Apple sold a record 47.8 million iPhones in the three months after launch till December, up 78 percent on the figure from the prior year. However, analysts expected a much higher figure and investors are growing worried despite a net profit of $13.1 billion. Of course, it remains a mystery whether Apple’s own launch of the 128GB iPad was intended to steal some limelight from BlackBerry. But RIM has timed the launch well and is preparing to strike while Apple is still vulnerable.
Apple iPhone 5 sales are seeing a decline
With a growing arsenal of apps for BB10, RIM has also signalled its intention of keeping Microsoft on its toes. Microsoft has a peculiar problem with Windows Phone 8: after the initial hype surrounding the new UI design and the first devices, the mobile OS hasn’t picked up as well as it could have. This is despite the brave attempt by Nokia with their Lumia range of handsets. It would be fair to say that the Lumia range is the WP8’s flagship line-up, and no other manufacturer has put so much stock in Microsoft’s vision as Nokia. The question on everyone’s minds is whether BB10 will take Microsoft’s share in the market. Keeping that in mind, launching a number of apps with the BB10 unveiling could prove to be a boon for RIM.
Popular apps visible here
RIM does seem to have a winning formula on its hand. Their new handsets look slick and modern without screaming BlackBerry. They have a number of apps ready, and with Apple’s sales numbers falling, RIM could capitalise on the current lull in the high-end smartphone market. The big announcements will come at the Mobile World Congress next month and the manufacturer events that follow, but at the moment, the stage has been cleared for RIM to enjoy the spotlight.