Research In Motion confirmed a Jan. 30 launch date for BlackBerry 10, its next-generation mobile operating system that is largely considered a make-or-break move for the struggling smartphone maker.
RIM said both the new OS, and new BlackBerry smartphones running the software, will be available upon the launch.
The company's confirmation of a January release puts to rest a wave of reports that emerged last month suggesting the launch had been delayed until March. The reports were prompted by a research note published by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, who wrote that RIM "management has been silent as to the timing of the launch," and that Jefferies anticipated a delay.
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Speculation of a delay may have also stemmed from RIM pushing back the release of BlackBerry 10 in June, when RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told investors that the development timeline for the software was "no longer realistic." The OS was originally slated to launch this year, by the end of the fourth quarter.
When it does arrive next quarter, BlackBerry 10 will usher in a new generation of BlackBerry smartphones that will go head-to-head against market leaders including Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Android-based Galaxy handsets.
The OS will arm BlackBerry devices with a slew of new features, such as BlackBerry Hub, a central console from which users can access and track all messages, notifications, social media feeds and calendar appointments. BlackBerry Flow, another new feature, is said to provide users with a more seamless navigation experience, allowing them have multiple apps open at once, and switch between them with the swipe of a finger, rather than having to return to the home screen.
RIM is also targeting its bread-and-butter enterprise market with BlackBerry 10 through its new BlackBerry Balance feature, which allows users to host their personal apps and other information separately from corporate data.
RIM said that BlackBerry 10 smartphones already have entered more than 50 carrier labs, with more entries expected in the coming weeks.
The January launch will represent RIM's attempt at a comeback, after surrendering much of its smartphone market share to rivals Apple and Google. RIM's global market share for its BlackBerry platform has slipped from 11.7 percent to the 5.2 percent in the last year, Gartner reported in August, with Apple's iOS and Google's Android accounting for 18.8 percent and 64.1 percent share, respectively.
RIM, however, believes these numbers could shift in its favor with the arrival of BlackBerry 10.
"By showing the world how BlackBerry 10 unites elegant devices with a flowing user experience that is based on a future-proof mobile computing platform, and our strong alignment with the carriers, we are making believers out of partners," RIM's Heins said at the company's BlackBerry Jam Americas event in September. "And we are also making believers out of those who have previously written BlackBerry off."
PUBLISHED NOV. 12, 2012