BlackBerry 10 will get full carrier support, RIM exec says

RIM Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear says there's a lot of enthusiasm from both carriers and Fortune 500 companies.

RIM's headquarters, in Waterloo, Ontario. Research In Motion

Research In Motion says it's hearing all the right things about BlackBerry 10.

Carriers and Fortune 500 companies that have played with RIM's next-generation operating system are enthusiastic about its prospects, Chief Operating Officer Kristian Tear told CNET today. More importantly, the carriers have promised their full support, he said.

"We will put our full effort into this launch," he said. "The carriers will do the same thing."

Tear was light on details when it came to launch, preferring to save a larger reveal for closer to BlackBerry 10's unveiling, scheduled for January 30 . An official launch in stores is expected to occur the following month . But Tear reiterated his confidence that RIM's partners will be there for the company at launch, and that carrier executives are hopeful BlackBerry 10 will be the third major mobile platform behind Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

RIM could use all the allies it can get, as the company isn't the only one fighting for that coveted No. 3 slot. Microsoft earlier this month launched its Windows Phone 8 operating system, and products running on the platform are hitting the market now. It has likewise said it's hearing all the right things in regard to carrier and fan support of the platform.

Despite BlackBerry 10 coming a few months after Windows Phone 8, Tear was confident about the strength of the platform. With the OS, there's no ambiguity or confusion on what a customer is buying, since BlackBerrys come from RIM, Tear said, a veiled shot at the number of different partners, products, and release dates for Windows Phone 8 smartphones.

"We think the experience is so unique, it doesn't really matter that it comes in the first quarter," Tear said.

Microsoft would argue that the different partners and products mean more choices and price points for consumers, and a potentially larger ecosystem of devices and apps.

That the carrier executives have seen all the various operating systems and are still enthusiastic about BlackBerry 10 is another good sign, Tear said.

The carrier executives like that it's a unique experience that only RIM can provide, he added. They're also starting to appreciate the expanded app library, improved media capabilities, browser, and ability to switch between work and personal profiles, something chief information officers like, he said.

"They welcome the platform," Tear said. "I've been to a lot of product meetings over my career, this is without a doubt the most positive experience I've had showing BB10 to the carriers. That's a good start."

The company said more than 50 carriers around the world are testing BlackBerry 10 and its smartphones, but Tear declined to comment on how many U.S. carriers would support the phone. He said RIM would devote the appropriate resources to North America but stressed this was a global launch.

A demo unit running an early version of BlackBerry 10. CNET

RIM is hoping that most of its competitors beat themselves up over the holiday season, allowing RIM to stand alone early next year with a unique product. But it's unclear just how much "full support" RIM will get from the carriers, particularly in that period.

Most of the carriers will have spent a lot during the holiday season campaigning for one smartphone or another, and they tend to pare back on advertising spending after the new year begins. Consumers may also hold off on spending after the likely year-end splurging. AT&T's launch of the Lumia 900 in the first quarter provides a good example of how a phone that got a decently large campaign early in the year wound up with only modestly positive sales.

With a lot riding on BlackBerry 10, RIM won't just leave it to the carriers. Tear said the company has big plans to roll out the phones -- "the whole textbook and a few more things" -- and will spend appropriately to get the word out.

When asked about bringing back the cool factor to the BlackBerry name, Tear didn't seem too concerned.

"I think we're cool. I think 80 million other people out there think (BlackBerrys are) cool," he said.

 

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