"On the plus side, RIM has a new, fresh-looking UI and a powerful OS," says Carolina Milanesi, research vice president for consumer technologies and markets at Gartner. "On the down side, they are building a brand new app ecosystem [newly renamed BlackBerry World], which means they will not have the same addressable market as [for example] Android. Possibly the biggest hurdle is [new] branding, and how they need to regain their status as a leader brand."
For many software developers, ardently courted by RIM for over a year, the upside and downside spell "opportunity." One of them is a young, independent developer named Daniel Bigham. Nearly a year after seeing BB10 demonstrated at RIM's annual user conference he remains exclusively committed to it, having already ported 10 of his apps.
"There's not as much competition from other developers, and it's a very open platform where you can choose what tools you want to use, leverage existing C/C++ code or open source code," he says. "It's a very solid OS. It has a 'Retina-class display' [referring to Apple's high pixel density Retina Display technology], 60 frames-per-second video, a built-in animation framework, and declarative UI with real-time preview."
Pent-up enterprise demand
Most of the people interviewed for this story expect to see a surge of BlackBerry 10 sales in part because of pent-up demand among enterprise customers who, anticipating the new mobile OS and associated server applications, have postponed upgrading their legacy infrastructure based on the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES), and the older BlackBerry mobile OS.
"We have enterprise customers ready to go [with the new BES and BlackBerry 10]," says Frank Kuschmierz, CEO for Xenium IT, an IT services firm based in Elmira, Ontario, not too far from RIM's Waterloo headquarters. The company does "lots of BES installs and upgrades" with a range of emergency services, police, and other public safety clients.