RIM’s BlackBerry 10 Launch – Sink or Swim time for its survival

The much awaited Blackberry 10 is on its way to be launched this Wednesday in U.S.

Critics call it Research In Motion’s ‘ last roll of the dice ‘ as the Canadian corp has been ailing since it lost a substantial market share, due to ubiquous presence of smartphones like Apple, Samsung and Google’s Android.

Blackberry was once a domestic name particularly in corporate arenas. However, in recent years the company has gone into a dive both in both market share and prestige, allowing competitors like Apple and Samsung to leapfrog over. This may be due to lack of innovation or technology problems.

In an attempt to attract younsters towards BB10, RIM has sought help from companies that employ students to develop nearly 150 apps on the BlackBerry platform, ranging from algorithms for guessing your mood to those that help start and accelerate a car. BlackBerry was until recently offering users about 1,05,000 apps, compared with 7,00,000 for Android phones and 7,75,000 for Apple.

Now, ahead of what most observers view as a make or break product launch, the BlackBerry maker’s stock recently skyrocketed to a new 52 week high above $18 as buzz over the new phone reached a crescendo. Yet in a move that may reflect growing caution over prospects for the BlackBerry 10, the stock suffered an eight percent plunge on Monday.

Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst , believes BB10 will provide only a temporary boost in performance “but no salvation” for RIM.

“RIM continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers,” Dawson said. “There is nothing in what we’ve seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of RIM’s control.

The core BlackBerry advantages – great keyboards, real-time email/messaging and security – have become less pronounced as competitors have caught up. Where BlackBerry Messenger once stood out, the functionality has been replicated by dozens of apps such as WhatsApp, while real-time email and the ability to hook up with corporate networks is now a standard feature.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry has fallen far behind in such areas as apps, fast internal hardware required for multimedia, web browsing experience and camera quality. This has been a deal-breaker for many consumers who want one device for both work and play.

At its launch event in New York on Wednesday, RIM is expected to unveil at least two devices running its new, completely revamped BlackBerry 10 operating system. One will reportedly be a 4.2-inch full touch-screen device, while the other will have RIM’s trademark hardware keyboard.

The company has been leaking like a sieve ahead of the launch, with several documents, pictures and internal training manuals appearing on the web.

RIM has also held dozens of developer events around the world, hoping to flesh out its app store. It has guaranteed certain pre-approved apps will generate $US10,000 ($A9600) in revenue in the first year or the company will make up the difference.

Several RIM executives appeared in a music video last year designed to butter up app developers. It was widely ridiculed but it may just work, with the company promising at least 70,000 apps available at launch.

RIM is gearing up for a major marketing blitz for BB10, including a reported $US3.8 million US Super Bowl ad.

It remains to be seen whether the BlackBerry 10 can permanently transform RIM’s fortunes into more than just a momentary stroke of good luck. In a smartphone market dominated by Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy, skeptics wonder if a diminished BlackBerry brand can reestablish itself in a fickle marketplace.

On the other hand, not everyone is deserting BlackBerry, though. Many influentials still stick to the phone out of their brand loyalty or due to their conventional beliefs  that RIM still has a corporate identity.

So, all fingers crossed for RIM’s latest launch. Its ‘crunch time’ for BB10…