Investors still have some faith left in RIM. Shares of Research in Motion Ltd. leapt to more than 4% to $8.90 as the company finally announced the debut date of its long-awaited and almost-forgotten new BlackBerry 10 OS. The launch event, which RIM says will be hosted in several countries, is set for January 30. Two new BlackBerry phones are also expected to take center stage at the launch.
The date announced by RIM is months ahead of a Jeffries & Co. forecast that said the OS would most likely launch in March, missing the critical holiday shopping period this year. The delay of the new OS, previously set sometime in the first quarter of 2013, has caused RIM stocks to fall as the BlackBerry brand faced intense competition from Samsung and Apple. RIM has been banking on the sales of BB10 smartphones to resuscitate its ailing shares in the smartphone market. Aside from Samsung and Apple, RIM has Nokia and HTC to grapple with, as both companies also struggle to regain their footing in the smartphone arena. Bloomberg Business Week previously reported that RIM stocks had dropped 5.3% in New York with shares falling to an overall 46% this year. This was the company’s biggest decline since September 21.
Stocks first rallied to 14% after CEO Thornsten Heins pronounced that the Canadian telecommunication and wireless company has moved into the “Lab Entry” or testing phase of the BB10 with 50 carriers. But even with this pronouncement, analyst Peter Misek remained unimpressed, saying that lab testing would usually take three to six months.
RIM was hit hard in mid-October after losing a contract with the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency (ICE) to the Apple iPhone. ICE ditched RIM, which it had been using for the past eight years, because it felt that the BlackBerry platform no longer suited its needs, while the iPhone offered a secure and manageable platform. ICE has around 17,600 employees and its iPhone order is estimated to cost around $2.1 million. Earlier in the year, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives also dropped BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone.
RIM Courting Government and Businesses
With the announcement of the official launch date, the company is optimistic that interest in BlackBerry handsets will be fanned anew. Aside from government officials, RIM is also trying to win back employees who use their smartphones as BYOD mobile business phones. Heins, quoted in the New York Times, says of the new OS, “It is stress relief; it doesn’t make you look at all your applications all the time. This is going to catch on with a lot of people.”
RIM Banks on BB10 Flow UI
The new models will have no home button and will include a red LED light that flashes when a message is received. RIM is also expected to launch a model with a physical keyboard. Heins said that home buttons are unnecessary in the new OS, because BB10 will be able to use apps simultaneously without needing to switch repeatedly between them. The result is a more fluid user experience, which enable users to “flow” between tasks and experience seamless navigation. Aside from this, it will also feature BlackBerry Hub, which shows feeds, messages, calendar events, and notifications in one “hub” or area instead of several locations.
Does the prospect of a still-fighting BlackBerry on the market still register on the radar of most these days? How about you? Would you consider using a BlackBerry in the future if it could compete with what other companies have been giving us? Please leave a comment and let’s talk about it!