t’s been an exciting few days for Research in Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) and RIM fans alike. Since I last wrote about the challenges RIM faces as it proceeds through its transition period, RIM has released a new version of its popular instant messenger, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and officially announced three new OS7 devices.
BlackBerry Messenger 6
For many BlackBerry users, BBM is the distinguishing feature that sets a BlackBerry device apart from all the rest. So what’s new in BBM 6? BBM can now integrate with BBM connected apps, which will allow information to pass between BBM and apps. This means third-party app developers can now leverage the communication power of BBM to build additional social features into their apps. For users this means improved social experiences and greater interaction with friends from within apps. With BBM 6, users will be able to:
- Share status updates from BBM connected apps
- Share apps by inviting BBM contacts to download and join in
- Start BBM chats from within connected apps
- Discover what apps friends are using
A list of BBM connected apps already available can be found here.
BBM is one pillar on which RIM’s social media strategy rests. Earlier this year at the 2011 BlackBerry World Conference, RIM announced that BBM had 43 million active users. As such, opening up the BBM service and its large user base can be a huge incentive to third-party app developers. On a personal note, I have found that BBM 6 runs noticeably faster and smoother than previous versions on my Torch. What are your thoughts about BBM6?
New OS7 Devices
On Wednesday, RIM unveiled two additional devices slated for release: the Torch 9810 and the Torch 9850/9860. Together with the Bold 9900/9930 announced earlier this summer, this will be RIM’s largest global product launchin company history. The devices will be available from 225 carriers starting as early as next week.
Due to delays, RIM has not release a BlackBerry smartphone since the Torch 9800 in August 2010. As a result, RIM has been gradually losing market share to competitors including Apple and Google. According to comScore Inc., RIM’s share of the U.S. smartphone industry dropped 4.2% to 24.7% for the three months through May
The Bold 9900/9930will feature an improved QWERTY keyboard with a 2.8” touch screen (640x480 - VGA) and near field communications. The Torch 9810is a slider that will have the same form factor and dimensions as the Torch 9800 but will feature an improved 3.2” display (640 x 480 – VGA, Transmissive TFT). The Torch 9850/9860is a touch-only device and will feature a 3.7” (800x480 WVGA, Transmissive TFT) touch screen. All three devices will have a 1.2 GHz processor, 5MP camera with HD video recording and will run on OS7.
Although these new devices do improve upon existing BlackBerry devices and may indeed sell well, many analysts are not convinced that these devices are anything but mere incremental improvementsover in-market BlackBerry devices. The lack of a dual-core processor is one example of this. Competitors such as Motorola, Samsung and HTC all have dual core smartphones. Already, rumors are abound that the new Apple iPhone 5 expected to release in September will also sport a dual-core processor. Where does this leave RIM? Well, playing catch up once again.
It’s clear that these new devices are a necessary product refresh for RIM. However, what’s less clear is whether these devices will be sufficient to stop RIM’s loss in market share and narrow the gap between RIM and its competitors, at least until the QNX-based devices arrive. As CCS Insight Vice-President of Research John Jackson told Reuters, "a stop-loss outcome would be a success for these products in developed markets."
The new devices are expected to start becoming available from carriers as early as next week.
ASiu – BlogBerry.hk
Disclosure: I have no positions with any of the companies mentioned and do not plan to initiate any in the next 72 hours.