Research In Motion (RIMM) is a company at a crossroads. 2012 cannot be salvaged, but the slow and stubborn RIM of old is a thing of the past and according to a number of industry watchers, the new RIM has a fighting chance. The struggling vendor’s future hinges on its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system and while the new OS looks promising in some ways, RIM faces an uphill battle and we’ve yet to see any truly compelling differentiation that might draw users away from Android and iOS. According to market research firm IDC, everything is riding on RIM’s 2013 turnaround efforts and if they fail, it will likely be the beginning of the end.
Following a report issued on Friday covering predictions for the coming year, IDC slipped a quick note in the report’s synopsis about Microsoft, RIM and the crucial coming year.
“In the battle for primacy over the mobile operating system market, 2013 will be a critical year for Microsoft (MSFT) and Research In Motion,” IDC noted in its report. “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. Failure to do so by the end of 2013 will likely be the beginning of their demise in this market. Meanwhile, hardware vendors like Samsung (005930) will explore their OS options, including Linux/Tizen, as a hedge against the growing market dominance of Android.”
The situation is much more dire for RIM than Microsoft, of course. Early indications suggest Windows Phone 8 handsets are off to a healthy start but even modest performance in 2013 would hardly spell the end for the world’s largest software company.
For RIM, on the other hand, 2013 is do or die. The Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone maker is not in a position where it can sustain poor BlackBerry 10 sales in the coming year. For this reason, and because RIM’s new mobile platform has not exhibited any compelling differentiation that might lead users away from rival smartphone platforms, RIM bears are already predicting the company’s demise.
RIM is set to unveil the finished version of BlackBerry 10 on January 30th along with the first two smartphones that will launch with the platform.