It's easy to see why Research In Motion (NYSE:BB) bulls are excited today. They finally have a date they can circle.
The smartphone pioneer has scheduled its BlackBerry 10 launch event for Jan. 30, meaning that the oft-delayed platform upgrade is finally on the way.
There's plenty to like in BlackBerry 10. The "BlackBerry Flow" feature that makes navigating through recent activities seamless is slick. The updated touchscreen keyboard -- where gestures bring up new keyboards or can type entire words -- is a cut above what the competition is doing.
Unfortunately, it probably won't be enough.
There's a reason why RIM has seen its market share cut in half, and it's a long shot for the company to innovate its way out of this dilemma.
Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) has the high end of the market cornered with the iPhone 5, and Google's (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android is the operating system of the masses. It's a one-two punch for the rest of the industry players. Industry tracker comScore reported that iOS and Android accounted for 86.9% of the smartphone market in this country in August, and it's not as if RIM has been a world beater overseas these days.
Things have probably gotten even worse for RIM since then. The arrival of Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 last month will make it harder for BlackBerry to stand out for enterprise users. Besides, IT departments have caved in to the growing demand for iPhone and Android gadgetry from employees.
There's always a chance that BlackBerry 10 is so revolutionary -- without the pricing advantages of Android or the app ecosystem for iOS and Android -- that it can overcome the trend. There's also the booming nature of the smartphone market, where there's clearly enough action to go around.
However, we have yet to see a smartphone platform bounce back after slipping. It's still early, naturally, but the market and consumer tastes can be fickle enough that once you're cast off, you're done forever. Both RIM and Microsoft hope that it's not true, but RIM's going to have to do a lot next year to prove that it's not a dying platform.