RIM Needs BlackBerry 10 to Succeed: Analysts Say What Must Happen Next
Avi Greengart, research director for consumer devices, Current Analysis: "RIM is going to have to convince consumers—not just enterprises—to buy BlackBerry 10 devices instead of iPhones or Android phones. (The business and government base is important to RIM, but is actually only a fraction of RIM's overall subscribers, and many enterprises are allowing employees to choose their own smartphones, so if you don't attract the consumer, you're going to lose the enterprise anyway.) "The new BlackBerrys will have to sell well enough to reverse RIM's subscriber declines, and sales will need to grow even after the initial wave of true believers buys the first devices. If RIM gets that far, its next challenges will be broadening the line to allow its base of BBM-centric Curve users in emerging markets to upgrade, and carving out a unique space with application developers and service providers so that the BlackBerry 10 gets some of these apps and experiences first, not after iOS and Android." Jack Gold, principal analyst, J. Gold Associates:"One of RIM's significant problems has been one of perception. In the market today, if you're not seen as a winner, you're seen as a loser. There doesn't seem to be many shades of gray. RIM needs to get some momentum behind them and get users to say, 'I want one of those.' That will determine how successful they will be over the longer term. They have to regain some market cache." Roger Kay, principal analyst, Endpoint Technologies: "RIM essentially needs to show it can keep its core customers: financial and government agencies. Volumes are less important, although showing some good sales figures would be nice. RIM's value proposition has always been secure, reliable corporate email [plus voice] for serious business types. It needs to prove it can still satisfy this important audience." Jack Narcotta, analyst, Technology Business Research: "If RIM can show cumulative revenue growth of 5 percent for all regions outside 'other' after BB10 launch, then I'll consider it to be moving in the right direction. More than 50 percent of RIM's revenue comes from 'other' regions [RIM's label from its financial statements], which includes revenues from Middle East, Southeast Asia, Africa, Japan, China and Latin America. In these regions, RIM needs to quickly make even its premium devices affordable to the very fickle user base. In developed markets, such as Europe and the U.S., RIM will need to utilize aggressive pricing to rise above the glut of Android devices sold through carriers and undercut premium pricing for iPhone models. "If RIM can show between 3 percent and 5 percent growth in unit shipments after the BB10 launch, then that's an indicator the company is righting its ship. The company shipped 32 million smartphones in 2012, roughly 8 million per quarter, and while a 3 to 5 percent bump in unit shipments wouldn't vault RIM back into the top 5—Android OEMs are simply making too many devices too quickly for RIM to leap over them—it would establish that BB10 is gaining traction and halting, to a degree, RIM's year-long slide." Carolina Milanesi, research vice president, Gartner: "In the short term, the number of mobile operators that put their money where their mouths are, and really put their marketing money behind BlackBerry 10, will be telling. Where are these devices being positioned in their portfolio? Are they really considering it the third ecosystem? Are they really getting behind RIM and helping them? "After that, obviously, a big part of it will be sales volume. Can they sell to enterprises and to consumers? But first, we need to see if they can stop the bleeding." Follow Michelle Maisto on Twitter.
"I think a lot of people look at BlackBerry and think they won't hit the numbers that Apple does, but it's an unnecessary comparison, they don't need to. Even if RIM can hit 10 or 15 percent of the market, that's a lot of phones—they'd be doing quite well. ... So one needs to look at whether their device numbers are increasing or decreasing over the next few quarters ... and whether their service revenue will stay constant, if consumers are buying BlackBerry 10 devices but not attaching them to BES servers.