BB10 will not save RIM, says Ovum

News Jan 28, 2013

It’s unlikely the launch of the latest Blackberry devices will help RIM claw back market share from Apple and Samsung

On Wednesday this week Blackberry will release its latest handsets and operating systems in what is seen as the last roll of the dice for the smartphone manufacturer.

Blackberry manufacturer RIM (TSE:RIM) has lost ground to rivals Apple and Samsung and is now hoping its new Blackberry 10 operating system and new smartphones will help the Canadian firm to claw back market share.

However, industry analysts are sceptical of BlackBerry’s chances of a comeback. “The new software platform will provide a temporary boost in performance but no salvation for RIM,” claims Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum.

Dawson says there are two major factors have worked against RIM in the past two years: companies are no longer buying the majority of smartphones sold today, and individuals overwhelmingly choose devices other than BlackBerries when they make buying decisions.

“Both of these have depressed sales for RIM’s devices, and neither is going away,” he says, adding the firm expects a significant increase in employee-led rather than IT department-led smartphone buying. “Our recent surveys suggest that even when employees aren’t choosing the device, they expect the replacement for their current BlackBerry to be an iPhone or an Android device. The second trend could be stopped in theory, but RIM does not seem to be focusing on this approach in BB10.”

Dan Wagner, CEO of mobile payments firm mPowa, also believes the battle will be lost or won in how well the new devices and operating system will engage the business market.

He said, “In its quest to gain a larger slice of the consumer market, Blackberry mustn’t lose sight of the core business customer base that it initially built its products around. Business has evolved drastically since the launch of Blackberry’s first smartphone in 2003, and business users now want to do more with their hand-held devices.”

Ovum says its research shows BlackBerry 10 won't necessarily win converts from other platforms. The points of differentiation RIM has focused on in teasers for the new platform confirm this – better multitasking, productivity, email, contacts and calendar applications and so on, rather than a better gaming, content consumption or social networking experience.

“Though the new platform should have significant appeal to existing users, we don’t expect it to win significant numbers of converts from other platforms,” says Dawson. “There is little in the new platform that suggests it will have the compelling apps, content stores, or the broader ecosystem that consumers have come to expect in a competitive smartphone platform.”

“Blackberry needs a dynamic platform that supports additional services that make businesses more efficient and mobile – if it is to hang onto its customers,” says Wagner.

“For Blackberry, an improved operating system is just one part of the journey; the major task Blackberry has is persuading app developers that there is value in investing in its infrastructure. In comparison to iOS and Android, Blackberry has a tough game of catch-up to play when it comes to apps. There is huge growth potential that can be exploited, but Blackberry should be a more future-proof organisation that opens the door for relationships with other innovative companies.”

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