Struggling BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (NYSE:BB) has just sent out an official save-the-date for the day it hopes can save the company: Jan. 30. The Canadian smartphone maker is hosting an event on that day to launch BlackBerry 10, its next-generation operating system platform that's tasked with rescuing the entire company. RIM is also launching the first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones on that fateful day, with additional details to come.

Quite literally everything is riding on this one. Current BlackBerry phones continue to run BlackBerry 7, and BlackBerry 10 has been years in the making. That waiting period has led to a justified perception that BlackBerry 7 is a dead-end platform. By launching in January, RIM will be sitting on the sidelines for the all-important holiday shopping season.

While Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS and Google (NASDAQ:GOOGL) Android keep gobbling up market share and leaving little for everyone else, Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) continues to enviously eye RIM's third-place spot.

Operating System

Q3 2012 Shipments

Q3 2012 Market Share


136 million



26.9 million



7.7 million


Windows Phone

3.6 million


Source: IDC.

RIM has now fallen below the 5% threshold, down significantly from the 9.5% share it garnered a year ago. That position is likely to deteriorate farther in the fourth quarter ahead of the first-quarter launch of BlackBerry 10.

There's a silver lining, though. Even though RIM's market share of new devices sold continues to shrink, its ranks of active subscribers have steadily grown over the years and still stand at all-time highs. As of last quarter, there were a record 80 million BlackBerry subscribers around the world. That's nearly double the 41 million subscribers RIM had just 2.5 years ago and it's also one important metric that hasn't declined (even as RIM's fortunes have).

If the company can persuade a significant portion of these users to upgrade to BlackBerry 10, then that might give RIM some much-needed breathing room.

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