Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM)'s first stop on the road to recovery with BlackBerry 10 is the U.S. wireless operators. The company will deliver "nearly complete" versions of its new smartphones to the wireless operators next week, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins told The Wall Street Journal Tuesday evening.
RIM's planning a five-week roadshow in which it will show off two beta versions of its smartphones, a qwerty/touchscreen combo phone, as well as one touchscreen-only phone. The BlackBerry maker plans to have six new phones in total, three with qwerty keypads and three touchscreens. Heins said they will launch with major U.S. carriers next year.
Why this matters
In order to win over consumers in the U.S., RIM will first have to win over the wireless operators, most of which are also carrying Android, iOS and Windows Phone devices. Heins told reporters this week that the carriers' transition to 4G phones was a big reason RIM's sales were hit so hard in the first place.
Now it has to not only convince them its new Long Term Evolution (LTE) smartphones are on par with the competition, but also of the company's viability amidst talks that it's looking for a buyer or trying to license out its software. (See OS Watch: RIM Revisits Licensing BB10 and RIM to Sell the BlackBerry Farm?)
Competition will be tough for RIM's new BlackBerries too, and it's delayed launch schedule has it missing the busy fall launch season. Apple Inc.'s new iPhone is rumored to be making its debut at a Sept. 12 event, and Nokia Corp. CEO Stephen Elop tells Reuters its first Windows 8 device will be launched in the relatively near term. Nokia World on Sept. 5 is the likely stage for the announcement.
RIM's BlackBerry 10 smartphones will still just be in production at that point. Heins tells The WSJ that RIM's ramping up production of its test devices over the next few months and is on track for an early 2013 launch of the finished product. (See RIM Delays BlackBerry 10 Phones 'Til 2013.)
â€” Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile