RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has been quoted recently as saying that he believes that the handset maker’s new BlackBerry 10 [#BB10] operating system, now slated for release in early 2013, will serve the company for the next ten years. I have no doubt that he believes this, but I don’t think it’ll serve the company for the next ten weeks – let alone the next decade. If, as has been predicted by the technology press, Apple releases the iPhone 5, running iOS 6 on September 12th, BB10 will be dead.
iPhone 5 aside, Apple will have launched 10 versions of its iOS operating system in just over 5 years. Google has released the same number of versions of its Android platform since it was launched in September 2008. BlackBerry, on the other hand, has launched just four versions of its smartphone OS since 2002. If, as Heins predicts, BB10 will serve the company for the next decade it will have updated the foundations of its mobile business just five times in 20 years.
Aside from the technical folly of this approach, the marketing impact is huge. Both Apple and Google have had ten high profile opportunities to tell customers [and prospective customers] about new functionality and how they’ve fixed existing bugs. They’ve had ten opportunities to woo the press, set out their vision, communicate key messages and build strong relationships. They’ve had ten opportunities to create a sense of anticipation in the market: Apple whips fans into near frenzy in the run up to a new product launch based on rumour and speculation alone! RIM has had just five of these opportunities… in ten years.
Even if RIM survives long enough, #BB10 arrives on time and it is the technological leviathan that Heins claims, it’s a one shot chance. A once-in-a-decade chance to turn the company around… what are the odds? My bet is that Apple will announce all of the key, ‘killer’, functionality planned for BlackBerry 10 when it launches its new iPhone early next month and RIM’s revolutionary new OS will be dead on arrival.
Sad but, likely, true.
Update: Now James Faucette of analysts Pacific Crest agrees http://www.techvibes.com/blog/rim-dead-on-arrival-2012-11-07
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