January 29, 2013, 4:04 PM — The key to Research in Motion's success in the business markets lies not with IT groups or even business users, but with consumers, according to analysts looking ahead to Wednesday's announcement of RIM's new BlackBerry 10 smartphones.
The phones, their new OS with its radically redesigned gesture user interface, and new back-end services are RIM's high-stakes bet to reclaim its place as a premier mobile device company. But RIM is also creating services and back-end infrastructures to amplify and extend what a device can do.
Opinion is divided on whether consumers will forgo buying iPhones and Android handsets and embrace the re-invented BlackBerry experience.
"Don't forget that in many parts of the world [outside the U.S.], BlackBerry actually is the choice of consumers," says Jack Gold, principle of J. Gold Associates, an independent research and strategy consultancy. "So it's not impossible for them to gain lots of consumer traction."
"We don't expect it to win significant numbers of converts from other platforms," writes Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst with Ovum, a U.K.-based analysis and consulting company. "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."
In fact, prior to the release of the iPhone in mid-2007, RIM was going from strength to strength as it aggressively and successively sought buyers among the ranks of consumers, new territory for a company that relied on corporate buying plans for its popular email devices and mobile phones. RIM at its peak was selling 12 million-15 million devices per quarter.
RIM's consumer challenge