Is BlackBerry too late to the party?

Despite early positive reviews, experts remain cautiously uncertain of the smartphone maker's future

Having lost much ground to rival smartphone makers in the recent past, the launch of BlackBerry 10 devices is essentially RIM's last ditch effort for survival. Sure, the new devices are beautiful and offer much in terms of features and design, but will it be enough for the once dominant communications and messaging firm to script a comeback? Experts remain uncertain.

Charles Golvin, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester Research says that while the BlackBerry 10 devices rise to the level of their competition, and in some casessuch as the keyboard's prediction and multilingual supportsurpass it, it's doubtful whether the new devices will enable the company to re-emerge as a significant player in the smartphone wars.

"At best, RIM's new products will allow it to stop the bleeding and hold its market share. Our consumer data shows that, while more than half of US BlackBerry owners plan to get a new phone in the next year, fewer than two in five of them say it will be another BlackBerry, Golvin writes in a blog.

The news isn't much better on the enterprise side either. With CIOs beginning to support rival platforms such as iOS and Android in the enterprise, some wonder if it's already too late for the Canadian smartphone company. For example, Forrester data shows that in the US, BlackBerry has only 6% of the information workforce installed base which means that the company will have to do some serious catching up with competitors in the US market.

Also, there is very little incentive for marketers to invest in customized BlackBerry experiences, opines Thomas Husson, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. "The longer-term challenge for the BlackBerry brand is still huge. Building reach to engage with a large enough installed base of BB10 active users will take time and requires BlackBerry to overcome its branding challenge in the US and Europe.

Armed with a new brand identity and a couple of devices which have received fairly positive reviews so far, BlackBerry must be hoping (and praying!) that its latest attempt to re-gain the former glory goes as planned. Needless to say, we'll be watching!

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