Research In Motion says it's still on track to launch its new BlackBerry 10 operating system during the first quarter of 2013, but analysts are saying the software won't make its debut until later in the quarter, rather than in January, as originally projected.
According to a research note published by Jefferies analyst Peter Misek, the BlackBerry 10 launch has likely slipped from January to March, meaning any financial gains from the new OS won't be realised until at least RIM's second fiscal quarter.
"Management has been silent as to the timing of the launch within [calendar year quarter one] but we believe plans for a Jan. launch have now been pushed back until March, which means BB10 will miss RIM's [February quarter]," Misek wrote, as reported Tuesday by eWeek.
This delay would be the second for BlackBerry 10, the next-generation mobile OS that is expected to usher in a new generation of BlackBerry smartphones, including those with full touch screens and greater accessibility to apps. The software was first delayed by RIM in June, when CEO Thosten Heins pushed the initial fourth-quarter release date into the first quarter of next year.
Heins has not specified a release date but has previously alluded to a January release.
When contacted for comment, RIM did not say when exactly BlackBerry 10 will launch, but told CRN that it's staying true to its first-quarter target.
"As Thorsten Heins (CEO) mentioned during BlackBerry Jam Americas, we continue to be on track for our calendar Q1 target," a RIM spokesperson said.
Jefferies' Misek noted that RIM's release of BlackBerry 10 will be the first of several steps the company needs to take in order to capture that coveted, third-place spot after Android and iOS in the competitive mobile OS market. After the software is released, RIM will likely be tasked with seeking out BlackBerry 10 licensing deals with other handset makers including Samsung and ZTE, to ensure its success.
"We still believe a third ecosystem will emerge," Misek wrote in the note, "but the probability of BB10 filling the role [instead of Microsoft's Windows Phone] is wholly dependent on whether RIM can convince Samsung, Huawei and ZTE to license."
Patrick Moorhead, president and principal analyst at Moor Insights & Strategy, also believes RIM will face an uphill battle in its bid to achieve widespread adoption of BlackBerry 10.
"If RIM’s BB10 does slip again, this will yet again be another setback, but the industry has gotten used to RIM disappointments," Moorhead told CRN.
"BB10 does look very compelling, but it will be launching in the midst of Apple’s iOS 7, Google’s Key Lime Pie and Windows Phone 8, and, therefore, another slip could be fatal."