BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is letting a handful of clients get an early start on incorporating BlackBerry 10 into their mobile device mix.
The Canadian smartphone provider announced the launch of its BlackBerry 10 Technical Preview, an invitation-only program that allows corporate IT managers to test BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 software and pre-production BlackBerry 10 smartphones, which are set to officially debut in late January. Currently, 120 "select customers" are eligible, 64 of which are Fortune 500 companies, claims RIM.
RIM's goal is to build momentum among big enterprises by getting its BlackBerry 10 technology into the hands of movers and shakers in industries like finance, healthcare, media and the government. In November, amid reports that U.S. government agencies were cooling to BlackBerries, the company announced that it had attained FIPS 140-2 certification to ease concerns among security-minded government agencies and businesses.
Despite the achievement, RIM still faces an uphill battle in reclaiming the enterprise mobility crown.
In October, IDC painted a bleak picture of RIM's tenuous grasp on the smartphone market. The research firm announced that smartphone shipments jumped 45.2 percent in the third quarter compared to the same period last year. Good news for Apple and Samsung, the leading maker of Android handsets, but not for RIM.
IDC noted that during the third quarter, RIM's share of the smartphone market plummeted to 4.3 percent after having shipped just 7.7 million BlackBerry handsets. Last year, RIM claimed 9.6 percent of the smartphone market with 11.8 million units shipped.
This past summer was particularly cruel to RIM. Its stock was downgraded by Morgan Stanley amid rumblings of layoffs and a possible breakup of the company.
Today, the company is singing a more upbeat tune.
RIM CIO Robin Bienfait laid out her company's plans to building some early buzz for the company's revamped mobile platform. "Beginning today, RIM will be visiting some of our enterprise and government 'early adopters' and getting them started with the BlackBerry 10 platform," she stated in press remarks.
She also hopes that the company's enthusiasm rubs off on those early adopters. "At RIM, we've seen the power of our new enterprise mobility management solution first-hand, and we are thrilled to share BlackBerry 10 directly with these leading organizations."