Research in Motion announced that their upcoming BlackBerry 10 devices will not have a physical keyboard. Yes, they’re jumping on the bandwagon of keyboardless touchscreen devices. Some may think this a great thing, but others argue that the appeal of BlackBerry lies in the fact that they have physical keyboards, as some people still want the feel of a physical keyboard when typing.
“The physical keyboard is the most dominant item that separates out Research In Motion from its competitors,” Colin Gillis, an analyst with BGC Financial said. “If you are not playing to your historical strengths you may find it more difficult to get traction.”
Others suggest that this move is RIM’s version of catching up with Apple iPhones, though I strongly doubt that since people these days, seeing as Apple and Google have outlined a fierce competition that leaves little room for a rivalry from RIM solely on a keyboardless device.
RIM stated that they will release BlackBerry 10 devices with a physical keyboard soon after the first wave of touchscreen BB10. But at the rate RIM is going, “soon” could be much longer than you think.
Keyboardless BB10 devices is the least of RIM’s concerns, as their stocks continue to plummet and the company continues to struggle to keep up with the iPhones and Androids available today. They’ve delayed the release of the BB10 for a year, people have grown impatient waiting for RIM’s next best thing and tired of all their BB7 devices. Were already halfway through 2012 and there’s still no news as to when BB10 devices will be available. All RIM says is “the device would be released later this year.” And there’s a huge problem with that. By Fall, Apple will likely be releasing the iPhone 5, raising the bar yet again while RIM tries to catch up instead of leapfrog with innovation.
Analysts are expecting fiscal year 2014 revenue of about $7 billion, quite far from Wall Street’s expectation of $12 billion.
“RIM is likely to significantly miss estimates in its FQ2’13 August quarter as it gets hit with the triple whammy of a quickly aging legacy portfolio of BB7 devices, the standard pause in unit shipments ahead of the launch of its new BB10 phone and the overall swoon in the smartphone market caused by the pause ahead of the anticipated October iPhone 5 launch,” Morgan Stanley analyst Ehud Gelblum said.
“Market share loss accelerates in FY14 as risks we have flagged earlier intensify, namely 1) competition increases in emerging markets due to increased availability and lower price points of Android smartphones and 2) BB10 misses back to school and the product flops, particularly because it has no keyboard which we believe is a key feature of Blackberries that is keeping the existing Blackberry faithful strong.”
There’s also a rumor going around that RIM might be splitting their business in order to stay afloat. Some say that the business would be separated into a hardware division and a messaging network, then the hardware division would be sold. Likely buyers of their hardware division are said to be Facebook and Amazon. Another rumor is that they would be selling a large stack of their company to a larger business such as Microsoft.