RIM Blackberry 10: the comeback kid?

Jan 29, 2013 | Biz/Tech

COURTESY Research In Motion

COURTESY Research In Motion

By Doreen Dawang

A lot of eyes are on Research In Motion as it launches its much-anticipated BlackBerry 10 operating system and device on Wednesday.

After a low $6.10 market share in late September , RIM shares in January have increased to a high of $18.29, according to Toronto Stock Exchange data.

Based on market shares, the Waterloo, Ont., based company still has hope to regain its reputation as a competitor in the smartphone world.

Marc Saltzman, a technology writer and host of Gear Guide at Cineplex movie theatres sees this launch as RIM’s make or break it moment.

“They were once the most valuable Canadian company,” Saltzman said. “And we’re proud that BlackBerrys were synonymous with smartphones back in the day. That was the smartphone.”

Saltzman said it’s critical for RIM to deliver a home run after losing momentum.

“If it’s not a stellar product, then they’ve blown it,” Saltzman said. “This is their time to shine.”

Saltzman said RIM has invested a lot of time and money into creating a product that is unlike anything they’ve released before.

“The problem with BlackBerrys is the product that they released in 2003 was essentially the same product you would buy in 2012,” Saltzman said. “They didn’t innovate.”

Smartphone owners who migrated from a cellphone never considered RIM as an option, Saltzman said. Apple’s iPhone and other android devices did so much more than the BlackBerry can do, and RIM just watched it happen, he said.

Saltzman said RIM “rested on their laurels” as an efficient messaging device manufacturer. But the company is now recognizing it can’t just create a business device. People are now multi-tasking, wanting a device that is ideal for gaming, music and other recreational things that BlackBerry was never known for.

“You can’t create a 9-5 device. You need a 5-9 device as well,” he said. “The lines are blurring between a business and consumer device.”

Tom Astle, a Toronto-based technology analyst said RIM is trying to get into the game with their other competitors.

“Undoubtedly, this is the most crucial and important product they have ever launched,” he said.

Astle said Canadians have lived through a couple of large failures in the technology era such as Nortel, and hopes to see RIM succeed.

“As Canadians, we really should be rooting for their success and be supporting them in whatever we can,” Astle said. “It’s become a major hub of technology activity in the country.”

Hyder Khoja, a wireless telecommunications professor from Humber College said RIM has been a great education tool for his students, offering coop opportunities and jobs for graduates.

“They have hired about 30 to 40 of our graduates in the past six to seven years,” Khoja said.

Khoja hopes the company continues to thrive by bringing more job opportunities for Canadians.

“It’s one company I would hate to see go down,” Khoja said.

Saltzman said it’s highly unlikely for RIM to climb back to the same level the company was at before, but it could still regain some market share.

“It’s not to say that RIM can’t be the comeback kid. This could be the comeback of all comebacks,” Saltzman said.

RIM is expected to live stream the BlackBerry 10 launch via webcast on Wednesday starting at 10 a.m. ET.