Analysts Expect BlackBerry 0S 6.0 Preview at RIM's WES

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2010-04-23

Analysts are bullish on Research In Motion's upcoming Wireless Enterprise Symposium, where the company is expected to unveil OS 6.0 for its BlackBerry smartphones, browser demos and updates on upcoming smartphones such as the BlackBerry 9670.

RIM is the leading smartphone maker, with 42 percent of the market, followed by Apple's iPhone at 25 percent and Microsoft Windows and Google Android at around 15 percent and 9 percent, respectively. But the company has slide a bit, shipping 10.5 million devices in the most recent quarter compared to the 11 million analysts expected.

RIM's WES conference kicks off April 26 in Orlando, Fla., where the company is geared to make product announcements designed to assuage investors' fears of any downslide.

Among the new points, BroadPoint Amtech analyst Mark McKechnie is expecting some noise about the BlackBerry OS 6.0, screenshots, which were published by Boy Genius Report. The blog noted the OS 6.0 boasts multitouch capability, tab switching and new favorites:

"Something big for OS 6.0 is the homescreen. While we didn't see any sort of widget support, it appears RIM has made the home screen completely customizable with pages. You can have your applications on the main page, then slide left or right to another page with different applications and browse that way."

This touch user experience, a departure from the keyboard/e-mail driven mode BlackBerry enterprise users are accustomed to, is something consumers have become comfortable with from Apple's iPhone and Android smartphones, such as the Motorola Droid or Google Nexus One.

BGR said the new OS 6.0 is expected in June or July, but a taste could come this week at WES. This could accompany demos for the new BlackBerry browser, which is allegedly three times more efficient for bandwidth than Apple or Android browser and could be ready in July or August.  

"The UI is CRITICAL in our opinion to providing easy access to RIM's App World, which we view as rich but under-appreciated partly due to its heavy 'business' positioning and challenging user interface," McKechnie wrote in his April 21 research note.

RIM could also unveil "major content announcements," inking deals with application providers for such areas as music, gaming, mapping and location, movies, and e-commerce.

"While we view the often quoted "number of apps" metrics as a poor indicator given that five killer apps could beat 10,000 losers, RIM's apps store boasts 6,000 apps versus Apple's at 185,000-plus and Android at 38,000-plus," McKechnie said.

No. 1 U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless is the premier carrier of RIM BlackBerry devices, but McKechnie said unit shipments to Verizon fell from 2 million in November to less than 400,000 in February. This was likely due to Verizon's well-marketed push of the Google Android-based Droid, which sold more than 1 million units in its first 2.5 months.

This has reduced RIM's deep reliance on Verizon and could also take the focus off of "when does the iPhone come to VZ (we think early 2011)," McKechnie said, adding that RIM should benefit from an increased push by AT&T for RIM's products in a "post iPhone" exclusive environment.  

Be that as it may, the analyst said RIM will sell 10 million smartphones through Verizon's channel in 2011 and could grow that number to 13 million in 2012 if the iPhone somehow doesn't appear on Verizon's network.

Meanwhile, Reuters claims RIM could unveil new handsets at WES, including the high-end BlackBerry 9670. The device, which BGR offers a peek at here, may use the BlackBerry 0S 6.0.


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