ChannelLife NZ - BB10 will not save RIM

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BB10 will not save RIM

Research In Motion will get a boost but not salvation from their BlackBerry 10 product launch this week.

That is according to research group Ovum, who believes in the long term the company will return to its recent patterns of decline.

“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," says Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst, Ovum.

"Both of these have depressed sales for RIM’s devices, and neither is going away.

"The first of these phenomena is unstoppable, and we expect a significant increase in employee-led rather than IT department-led smartphone buying."

Recent surveys show that employees are angling towards iPhone or Android devices in the future, dismissing RIM's BlackBerry 10 in the process.

“As part of our research for a newly published profile on RIM’s smart device strategy, it became clear to us that RIM’s intention for BlackBerry 10 is to be “the best BlackBerry for BlackBerry users” rather than something that will necessarily win converts from other platforms," Dawson says.

"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.

“Our analysis suggests that RIM has always sold about half its devices to new customers and half to existing customers upgrading to a better phone.

"For much of the last two years, the portion bought by upgrading customers has significantly outweighed the portion bought by converts, and this makes it all the more important for RIM to retain existing subscribers."

Long-term decline?

Despite the brief increase RIM will inevitably see from the launch of BB10, Ovum still expects its decline to continue longer term.

During its strongest period of growth, the Canadian company shipped between 12 and 15 million devices per quarter, yet analysts, chiefly Ovum, believe it is impossible to recreate such past glories.

"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," Dawson says.

"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.

"We don’t expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years.

"But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end.”

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