RIM faces its day of reckoning with BlackBerry 10 launch

Tue Jan 29, 2013 3:04pm EST
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By Euan Rocha

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The innovative line of BlackBerry smartphones that Research In Motion Ltd will formally unveil on Wednesday has already succeeded on one crucial count - getting RIM back in the conversation.

The new BlackBerry 10 has created a buzz among technology watchers and financial analysts, thanks to nifty features that may set it apart in an overcrowded smartphone market. RIM stock has almost tripled over the past four months on hopes the devices can restore RIM to sustained prosperity.

Reviewers like the browser speed and the intuitive keyboard on RIM's new touchscreen. A feature called BlackBerry Balance, which keeps corporate and personal data separate, could help RIM rebuild its traditional base of big business customers.

It's a welcome start for RIM, the smartphone pioneer that has teetered on the brink of irrelevance. But success will come only if consumer and business customers embrace the new technology in the weeks and months after CEO Thorsten Heins takes the wraps off the phone at a glitzy New York launch.

RIM is gambling its survival on the much-delayed BlackBerry 10, hoping to claw its way back into an industry now dominated by Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy.

The timing may be just right. The new phone hits the market just as the iPhone's remarkable run is showing some signs of slowing.

"I really do believe that the consumer market as a whole is ready for something new," said Kevin Burden, head of mobility at Strategy Analytics, an industry consulting firm.

"I have to believe that there is some level of user fatigue that plays into the longevity of some of these platforms," he added, referring to Google Inc's Android and Apple's iOS, which are both more than five years old. "RIM is probably timing it right."   Continued...

Research in Motion Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins is silhouetted during the BlackBerry World event in Orlando May 1, 2012. REUTERS/David Manning