Research In Motion's first QNX-powered BlackBerry will make its debut in the first quarter of 2012, according to a new report by the blog Boy Genius Report.
On top of that, the device is apparently code-named "Colt," which tells you everything you need to know about RIM's hopes: After months and months of executives talking up the QNX-powered "superphones" in development, anything less than racehorse-like market performance will come as a considerable blow to the company's fortunes.
However, BGR's Aug. 8 report suggested that RIM is hobbling the Colt in two key ways. "The information we received suggests that the first QNX device out of Research In Motion will be powered by a single-core processor ... rather than a speedier multi-core chipset," it read. "It's entirely possible that it could change ahead of the device's release, our source said, but the internal testing going on right now is with a single-core chip."
The first QNX smartphone will also launch without support for the current BlackBerry Enterprise Server, although RIM is supposedly developing a version for QNX. "If companies want to use Microsoft Exchange email on the device," BGR added, "they will actually have to use Microsoft ActiveSync, which the phone will support out of the box."
If RIM does manage to release its QNX smartphones in the first quarter of 2012, it'll beat at least one analyst report that had the devices' debut pegged for late 2012.
"We cut our estimates below consensus based on checks that handset shipments will be worse than expected in the Nov. Q despite the sell-in of the new OS 7 handsets," Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in an Aug. 4 note to investors. "We continue to believe the story hinges on QNX, which we believe will be delayed to [the second half of 2012] vs. guidance of early CY12."
RIM's new devices running BlackBerry 7 OS include the BlackBerry Bold 9900/9930, the BlackBerry Torch 9810 and the BlackBerry Torch 9850/9860. The new operating system offers faster browsing, smoother navigation, voice-activated universal search and preinstalled applications such as the enhanced BlackBerry Messenger 6.
"Channel checks indicate that in spite of RIMM's best efforts QNX handsets are still likely to arrive in [the second half of 2012]," he added. "It now appears the Playbook will not be able to run ported Android apps until late fall, later than consensus expected. We believe this is a symptom of resources being diverted from QNX to OS 7."
RIM's BlackBerry-branded PlayBook tablet runs a variant of QNX, but it remains to be seen how the company will modify that operating system for its handset debut.
Whatever their final form, RIM is clearly relying on those QNX devices to reverse its declining market share and push back against fierce competition from its rivals. Recent data from Nielsen suggested that Android held 39 percent of the U.S. smartphone market in June, followed by Apple's iPhone with 28 percent and RIM with 20 percent. That's roughly in keeping with earlier data presented by comScore, which placed Android at 38.1 percent, Apple at 26.6 percent and RIM at 24.7 percent.