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Analyst: BlackBerry 10 Won’t Launch Until March

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A note from a well-respected analyst suggests that RIM’s new operating system, BlackBerry 10, might not launch until March of 2013. The operating system has faced repeated delays, but RIM is counting on the OS to reverse its slow decline.

The Register reported that Jeffries and Co. analyst Peter Misek sent out a note which read, “We had hoped for a Jan launch (guidance is for a CQ1 launch) but now see a March launch as more likely.”

InformationWeek’s Eric Zeman agreed with that assessment, noting, “RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said during the company’s recent quarterly results call with analysts and media that it is submitting BlackBerry 10 devices to wireless network operators for carrier certification starting this month. The process to certify smartphones on any given carrier’s network takes anywhere from 120 to 160 days.” He added, “Some simple math tells us that if RIM really does get its BB10 devices to carriers for certifications this month (let’s say October 15 for the sake of argument), January 15 is the absolute earliest those devices might be ready for sale. But that’s not very likely. It’s more likely that it will be February 15 before the devices are certified to run on the wireless networks. Then throw in the time it takes to flash all the devices with the last build of the firmware, box them up, and ship them to the carriers. At best, RIM is looking at late February before it can launch BlackBerry 10, if not early March.”

All Things D’s John Paczkowski claimed an unnamed source agreed with the March deadline. He wrote, “sources familiar with RIM’s plans indicating that a January launch is, in the words of one, ‘probably too optimistic.’ This person also reiterated that the company is intent on releasing polished products. It’s working quickly, but it isn’t going to rush its new handset portfolio to market. Given its deteriorating market position, RIM needs an exceptional hit. And that’s what it’s shooting for.”

Eric Savitz from Forbes noted that a late launch would also make it less likely that other firms would be eager to license the OS. He quoted Misek as saying, “We think the business uncertainty means parties are unlikely to acquire or license from RIM until BB10 launches.” Misek added, “We still believe a third ecosystem [in addition to iOS and Android] will emerge, but the probability of BB10 filling the role is wholly dependent on whether RIM can convince Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE to license.”

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