The Long Road to BB10
RIM's results have just come out ahead of the company's quarterly earnings call. It reported a net loss of US$ 235 million on revenues of $2.9 billion, based on 7.4 million BlackBerry smartphones shipped (not necessarily sold) and some 130,000 PlayBooks. Which at least means the money is still coming in, revenue was slightly up on last quarter while the loss more than halved.
The light at the end of the tunnel for BlackBerry is BB10. Having axed a huge amount of its workforce, the company hasn't done anything to hint at an early arrival for BB10, but any news that it is still on track will be warmly received.
With its stock price already in poor shape, any bad news like another delay would have done limited damage to that, but after market action saw the stock up 15%. Still, with no replacement to the current range in sight, existing users may be more tempted to start looking elsewhere as a myriad of high-class devices from the iPhone 5 and Galaxy Note 2 to the upcoming Windows Phone 8 models threaten to sweep RIM's modest line-up away as irrelevant.
Trying to stay positive, the company was showing off its new social media apps (including Facebook, Twitter and FourSquare) for BB10 at a BlackBerry Jam event yesterday. These apps will only help them keep par with their rivals, and are pretty much demanded by all users, so consider them a box ticked off for launch, rather than anything special.
Still on track for a Spring 2013 launch, BB10 devices and the OS need to do more than just box-ticking to create a stir against monstrously powerful and increasingly smart devices. Redefining the way people communicate and interact is perhaps one way forward, while getting away from the bland icon/app experience (as Microsoft is trying to do) could be another line of advance.
Ultimately, if there are enough BB users by the eventual launch, then BlackBerry and RIM could survive as a fourth placed entity in the market (assuming Microsoft doesn't stuff things up), but it will still be a depressing fall for a company so feted at its height. If RIM can pull some of its own magic out of the bag for BB10 then perhaps there is a hint of brightness ahead.