BlackBerry maker Research In Motion finally plans to jettison the oft-criticized BlackBerry OS in favor of new software developed by QNX Software Systems, which RIM acquired earlier this year. And the new platform could debut as early as next week, when RIM may unveil its long-rumored tablet, known as the "BlackPad" at its developer conference, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Much criticized as slow, buggy and not competitive with Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system, the latest release of the BlackBerry OS, version 6, has met with lukewarm reviews. And the first BlackBerry OS 6 device, the Torch, has suffered lackluster sales compared to the hot-selling iPhone and a slew of new Android-based smartphones.
Samsung said this week it has shipped more than 1 million Galaxy S smartphones in the U.S., roughly six weeks after they were put on sale along side the iPhone 4 at AT&T and to T-Mobile subscribers.
Though they aren't iPhone 4 or iPad uptake numbers, sales of Samsung's Android-based phone does give the Android camp a hot-selling model to go head-to-head against Apple, and Research in Motion, which has seen lackluster sales of its new BlackBerry Torch, the first model sporting the new BlackBerry OS 6. Android's momentum has been well documented, most recently by Gartner when it reported that smartphone makers had shipped 11.2 million Android-based devices in the second quarter, or 17.2 percent of the worldwide market, up from a mere 1.8 percent in the second quarter of 2009. Yet much of Android's success has been attributed to the fact that there are dozens of makers and models of Android phones, offered by all the major wireless carriers, while the iPhone remains exclusively on AT&T in the U.S. and RIM is the sole supplier of the Blackberry.
In the wake of weaker than expected subscriber growth and device sales numbers reported for its quarter ended in May, Research In Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie promised a "quantum leap over anything that's out there" in the smartphone maker's forthcoming BlackBerry OS 6.0 update, in his earnings call with Wall Street analysts.
Balsillie had every right to sound confident in announcing that the company shipped a record 11.2 million devices in its first fiscal quarter, including its 100 millionth BlackBerry smartphone, generating revenues of $4.2 billion, up slightly from the previous quarter and substantially from $3.4 billion a year ago. Wall Street, however, expected 11.4 million devices shipped in the quarter and net subscriber additions of 5 million, which only hit 4.9 million. Thus, not all analysts are buying the bravado, and some say RIM is under pressure to deliver on Balsillie's boast or lose its substantial lead in the smartphone market.