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RIM faces 'make or break' with BlackBerry 10

RIM's new BlackBerry 10 operating system has been praised so far, but analysts say the company is riding on its success

By , IDG News Service
January 28, 2013 01:50 PM ET

IDG News Service - It's finally go time at Research In Motion. After delays that have tested the resolve of even its most enthusiastic customers, the Canadian company will finally launch its BlackBerry 10 OS on Wednesday and the stakes couldn't be higher.

The company, which once ruled the mobile messaging market with handsets that encouraged such devoted use that they were compared to crack cocaine, has seen a rough few years. It's market share, down by more than half in the last year alone, has collapsed as it failed to match increasingly attractive touchscreen smartphones and the changing demands of consumers.

BlackBerry 10 is meant to change all that.

[ BACKGROUND: As BlackBerry 10 phones near, hopes send RIM stock rising ]

BlackBerry 10
Credit: Martyn Williams, IDG News Service
The BlackBerry 10 operating system is shown running on a development handset.

"This is a huge launch for RIM," said Ted Schadler, principal analyst at Forrester Research. "They held off shipping it until it was ready, they made sure there were no bugs. Clearly they wanted to make sure they had the best product in the hands of the right people and the most carriers. That tells you a lot about what's riding on this for them."

"This product has to work for them, it's make or break time for RIM," he said.

(Watch RIM's BlackBerry 10 launch live on Wednesday morning, starting at 10 a.m. Eastern time. The event is expected to last an hour.)

So far, the response from those who have used the new software and the first phones has been good.

"It's a really positive step for the company," said Ramon Llamas, an analyst with IDC. "It puts BlackBerry on the same level as Apple, Android and Windows Phone and brings them into 2013 rather than being stuck back in 2010."

One of the areas that's getting a lot of the early attention is the phone's messaging hub, which brings together emails, Facebook messages, Twitter direct messages, SMS and all the other messaging options in the phone. All messages can be read and replied to from the hub, which is available from any screen on the phone.

"On another platform, you'd have to open those applications to respond," said Schadler. "RIM has it so that with a swipe, you can peek into the hub."

(See a video preview of key features in the BlackBerry 10 operating system.)

The phone's divide between personal and work modes has also been praised. Security settings in work mode can be completely determined and customized by the employer, corporate email can be accessed and company intranet sites visited all without mixing any of that data with the personal mode. In the latter mode, the user is free to do whatever they want on the phone, and there shouldn't be any impact on the potentially confidential data stored on the work side of the device.

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