Research In Motion has given BlackBerry 10 to more than 50 carriers around the world for certification.
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Research In Motion is really pushing it. CEO Thorsten Heins announced Wednesday that the company has delivered BlackBerry 10 to more than 50 wireless network operators around the world. It's a major achievement for RIM, which is desperately trying to regain lost ground in the smartphone market. But RIM's walking the razor's edge with the timing.
Carrier certification is an important part of bringing any cell phone to market. The process takes, on average, 120 to 160 days assuming everything goes smoothly. During that time, the wireless network operator tests the software for performance issues, functionality and ease of use, and has hundreds, if not thousands, of requirements that must be met.
In September, RIM committed to delivering BB10 to carriers in October. It made that self-imposed deadline, but just barely. RIM didn't spell out which carriers it gave BB10 to, but in the U.S. we can be sure that AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless are all digging their claws into the new smartphone platform from RIM.
Heins is giving it his all. In a statement he said, "I have spent the last several weeks on the road visiting with carrier partners around the world to show them the BlackBerry 10 platform and to share with them our plans for launch. Their response has been tremendous. They are excited about the prospect of launching BlackBerry 10 in their markets. Our respective teams are now engaged on the technical and commercial preparation of the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the lab entry is an important milestone in that context."
In other words, Heins is pitching BlackBerry 10 to carriers himself. He's not leaving RIM's future in the hands of mid-level managers.
Despite the hard work that RIM is doing, the company is cutting it close with respect to the launch of BlackBerry 10. It has said the platform will launch in the first quarter of 2013. If RIM is lucky, the carrier certification process will take only three months and not four months. Three full months from today puts the release of BB10 in the first week of February at the very earliest. If any problems arise during carrier certification, however, the launch will come later than that.
It will be interesting to see how the launch unfolds. Will RIM wait until most or all of the major U.S. operators have approved the platform, or will it launch as soon as one carrier gives it the green light? Will each carrier offer variations of the same phone, or will the differences be significant? The answer to these and many other questions will hopefully be answered before too long.
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