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Blackberry 10: RIM’s last chance

Research in Motion says it will launch the Blackberry 10 phone on January 30 in New York. That’s nice – there are still Blackberry fans out there in the wild hoping for their favourite phone maker to bounce back.

Some people still pine for a phone with a physical QWERTY keyboard.

Last month, the company’s boss Thorsten Heins told reporters RIM has “just this one shot”.

He is an optimist. One analyst gives Blackberry 10 a 30 per cent chance of success.

Even that sounds generous.

RIM plans to announce touch-screen phones and QWERTY models along with a new operating system. The goal is to go after corporate customers  – Blackberry dominated this sector until three years ago.

The smartphone market is saturated. With Apple and Android sharing 90 per cent of unit sales and Windows Phone 8 bidding for the rest, RIM has its work cut out.

It has been such a long time between drinks for RIM that most previous Blackberry owners have already moved to other smartphones. Wooing them back will be hard.

RIM must deliver faultless hardware and rock-solid software. It needs to offer something new and unique.

Even a perfect phone isn’t enough. RIM also needs a credible slew of apps ready at the launch. That doesn’t mean Angry Birds, although having games will help.

And the price has to be right. Blackberry can no longer command a premium.

The company’s last launch was the disastrous Playbook. While it had some good reviews, RIM held a humiliating fire sale to shift stock. That’s not an option this time.