RIM is in the news again. With a warning of an operating loss this quarter from CEO Thorsten Heins, the stock has plunged about 7% leaving the stock sitting at around 10$ per share. With disappointing news, the already immense pressure to release a BlackBerry 10 smartphone sooner rather than later has increased. But why?
RIM has clearly stated that the first BlackBerry 10 device will be available by the end of this year. Obviously releasing the new BlackBerry 10 smartphone before the back-to-school season would have its benefits, or perhaps before Black Friday, or Christmas (the list goes on). You’d get that extra boost in sales depending on the time. However, I don’t believe a moderate increase in short-term sales has a significant effect on the long-term success of BlackBerry 10 and RIM itself
If RIM launches early in the fall, such as August, they may benefit from the back-to-school sales period. However, if the product is marketed poorly, or the operating system is unfinished, the situation would probably become pretty dire for RIM regardless of the early launch. Without changing the perception of the BlackBerry brand, or launching a solid product, the launch date is a moot point.
If RIM launches BlackBerry 10 later this year, such as in November, it will be more likely that the product will be finished. Although, the sales opportunity from the back-to-school period will be lost, they can still benefit from the Black Friday/Cyber Monday and Christmas sales, which are associated with higher volumes.
Even considering the potential release of the next iPhone, at this moment the perception of BlackBerry has been so tarnished in North America that I doubt the launch timing relative to the iPhone would even matter. The general consensus among consumers is that the iPhone and Android platforms are superior. In order to compete, RIM has to convince consumers that this new breed of BlackBerry smartphones is not only good, but better than the competition. On top of that, RIM has to deliver a solid smartphone experience that competes with established and mature platforms with much more apps.
Despite the gloomy news, it’s tough to go out of business with 2.1 billion dollars in the bank. It’s not as if RIM has to release this device soon so they can avoid getting shut down. BlackBerry 10 will be released regardless. I feel the main reason why many claim that an earlier launch is better is their desire to satisfy their own doubts about the future of RIM. In times like these, differentiating public pressure to perform from the ability to perform is difficult. As long as RIM keeps its word and launches BlackBerry 10 this year, I believe the real question is the ability of RIM’s marketing and software development to achieve success despite such strong opposition.