Research In Motion’s Website is now offering a glimpse of its upcoming BlackBerry 10 hardware.
As glimpses go, it’s not much: the rear of a black smartphone, covered in what looks like pebbled leather or plastic, with a silvery BlackBerry logo front-and-center. There’s a camera aperture in the upper-left corner, and metallic areas on the outer edge that could be a volume control and a power button.
RIM is betting pretty much everything that BlackBerry 10, due to appear in January, will prove a hit with its traditional business audience as well as consumers. Once a reigning champ of smartphones, RIM has watched its user base shrink in the face of competition from Apple’s iPhone, a galaxy of devices from various manufacturers running Google Android, and, lately, Microsoft’s revamped Windows Phone. Over the past year, according to research firm Gartner, the company’s market-share has plunged from 11.0 percent to 5.3 percent; by contrast, Android owns 72.3 percent of the market, with iOS in second with 13.9 percent.
RIM has been further hit by the BYOD (“Bring Your Own Device”) trend, which has shrunk its traditional audience of business and government users. In an interview earlier this year with The Washington Post, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins hinted that the trend had damaged the company’s prospects. Certainly it increases the pressure on BlackBerry 10 to perform well with a broad demographic, despite the inevitable pressure from Google, Apple, and Microsoft.
Indeed, Microsoft—which is trying to transform Windows Phone into a solid third competitor to Google and Apple—and RIM face an epic challenge in 2013.
“Both vendors need to capture much greater interest from mobile app developers to expand the number of apps that run on devices powered by their respective operating systems,” read a November research note from IDC on the cloud and mobility market over the next year. “Failure to do so by the end of 2013 will likely be the beginning of their demise in this market.”
No pressure, RIM.