RIM Launches 4-Part BlackBerry 10 Ready Program

RIM has launched the first two parts of a four-part BlackBerry 10 Ready Program, to ensure all customers are prepared—and happy.

When BlackBerry 10 arrives Jan. 30, there will be no confusion, no head-scratching over how to set things up, no incompatible systems—not if Research In Motion can help it.

RIM has introduced a phased, four-part BlackBerry 10 Ready Program that officials said is designed to address the needs of its enterprise customers as they "prepare their environments" for the launch of RIM's long-awaited (twice-delayed) BlackBerry 10 platform and its Enterprise Service 10.

As of Dec. 6, the first two components are available. One is a BlackBerry 10 Ready Webcast series, offered in multiple languages, that's designed to offer information, answer questions and make sure that customers have "the tools they need ahead of launch," according to the company.

On the BlackBerry Webcast site, RIM customers can also email the company with their questions and, on Jan. 10, a panel will make sure "you've got the answers you need,” officials said.

The second is a BlackBerry 10 Ready Offer, which offers BlackBerry qualifying customers with BlackBerry Technical Support at the Advantage level or higher a free BlackBerry 10 smartphone when the new devices launch. To qualify, RIM said in a statement, "Customers will need to install and run BlackBerry Mobile Fusion (which will be succeeded by BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10) and successfully complete an exclusive online learning course."

RIM has said that it will offer a full touch-screen BlackBerry 10 smartphone, as well as an option with a dedicated QWERTY keypad. CEO Thorsten Heins, during an August interview with eWEEK, promised to wow the industry with both. The company has done extensive work to improve its already well-liked QWERTY keyboard and invested heavily to upgrade its often-criticized virtual keyboard experience.

"This is going to set the bar for other touch devices," said Heins.

Once a leading solution and smartphone maker, RIM has failed to compete with the Apple iPhone and Android-running devices such as Samsung's Galaxy line. During the third quarter, RIM held on to a 2.1 percent share, while market leader Samsung increased its holding to nearly 23 percent, Nokia's shares fell to 19.2 percent and Apple, largely without the benefit of the iPhone 5, which went on sale with just days left in the quarter, held a 5.5 percent share, according to Gartner.

RIM's operating share fell to 5.3 percent during the quarter, from 11 percent a year ago, while Android more than dominated, with a 72. 4 percent share globally.

Amid rumors that the struggling company could be purchased outright or sell off assets, Heins has conceded that the company has hired advisors and is investigating all its options—though it's unlikely to move on these before the launch of BlackBerry 10.

Where Heins has remained firm is in his insistence that BlackBerry 10 will both impress and give RIM the forward momentum it needs.

"I am positive that when we launch BlackBerry 10," Heins said during a July interview on a Canadian radio program, "there will be huge support from our carrier partners ... and that we will reemerge specifically in the U.S. and in Canada as a very strong player—not just in the smartphone market, but also emerging in the mobile computing market."

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