Research In Motion has pushed back the launch of the first device powered by its BlackBerry 10 operating system to March 2013, according to comments from a US financial analyst. That means it will be even longer before the company can benefit from the introduction of its new smartphones, which will play a pivotal role in its turnaround efforts.
While RIM has not provided guidance beyond the first quarter of calendar 2013 – meaning March is still in line with this – it had been anticipated that the first BB10 smartphone would reach the market sooner, rather than later. It has already been pushed back from the fourth quarter of 2012, as the company looks to bring a fully polished product to market.
According to Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co: “Management has been silent as to the timing of the launch within CQ1 but we believe plans for a Jan launch have now been pushed back until March, which means BB10 will miss RIM's Feb Q.”
RIM’s financial quarters do not align with calendar quarters.
The challenge that RIM will face is that by launching in March the device will need to compete with anticipated smartphones such as Samsung’s Galaxy S4, as well as any other new handsets announced at the GSMA Mobile World Congress in late February.
RIM has previously said it expects operator testing of next-generation BlackBerry devices to start soon.
The company is expected to launch a full-touch device first, followed by a QWERTY unit shortly afterward. In the meantime, it is attempting to maintain is position with its aging BlackBerry 7 products, although unsurprisingly it is seeing price pressure against tough competition from other mid-tier smartphones.
Misek also said that he believes that there is “no imminent sale” of RIM on the cards, and that any licensing deals for BB10 are likely to take place after the launch of the first handsets next year. “We think Samsung and some other Asian OEMs might be interested, but we think they see better terms and entry points months from now," he said.