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RIM's Fortunes Ride on BlackBerry 10 Rollout
By Barry Levine
Posted: January 28, 2013 11:41am PST

In advance of the rollout, RIM announced a variety of music and video partners for BB10, including Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. RIM said BlackBerry World would have a wide selection of music, TV shows and movies, with many movies released the same day as on DVD.

This could be Research In Motion's make-or-break week. As the Canadian company attempts to revive its fortunes by unveiling its delayed but anticipated new BlackBerry 10 platform and the first BB10 devices on Wednesday in Manhattan, rumors are flying as a few details are emerging.

One rumor is that the touchscreen BlackBerry Z10, one of two smartphones the company is expected to show at the launch, will be available for an unsubsidized price of $755 and, when offered with a two-year contract by a carrier, will run under $200. This could make make it a bit cheaper than, say, the 16 GB iPhone 5 or the Samsung Galaxy S III.

On Monday, RIM announced a variety of music and video partners for BB10, including Walt Disney Studios, Sony Pictures, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group. The company said that BlackBerry World would have a wide selection of music, TV shows and movies, with many movies released the same day as on DVD.

Lenovo Backing Away

Meanwhile, Lenovo is backing away from reports last week that it might be considering a RIM acquisition. Lenovo's CFO, Wong Wai Ming, had told Bloomberg News that his company was considering various acquisition possibilities, including Lenovo. The report raised the possibility that RIM could face major issues with U.S. and Canadian governmental clients, and possibly some corporate ones, because of the fact that Lenovo is a Chinese company and China has been the source of many security, freedom of expression and intellectual property concerns.

But on Monday, Lenovo issued a statement that the CFO's comments were general statements about mergers and acquisition possibilities, and that the inquiring journalist had raised the RIM possibility. In other words, there is no active movement by Lenovo to buy RIM.

To keep going what it hopes will be great buzz following Wednesday's event, RIM has scheduled a 30-second ad to be aired during the Super Bowl on Sunday. It's a considerable investment, given that 30 seconds of airtime in that big sports event goes for $3.8 million.

'Reset Consumer Expectations'

Current Analysis' Avi Greengart, who will be attending Wednesday's event, told us that RIM is "trying to reset consumer expectations for the brand" with its launch. While the company is known for its appeal among enterprises, Greengart noted that "three-quarters of its base is consumers," and, even though it has adherents in IT departments, those departments are being inundated by the "bring your own device" movement.

So, he said, RIM "has to pitch the new devices as something consumers want" in order to make it in both the consumer and business markets.

Greengart noted that RIM has announced one device at the launch will be all-touch, the other will have a physical QWERTY keyboard, and "the focus is going to be on personal productivity, for people who want to get stuff done."

But, he said, RIM's task for long-term survival is "trying to establish a third ecosystem in what is now a duopoly," with Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

"That's a tall order to fill," he said.

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