As Research in Motion prepares for what could be its final battle against Apple and Android with Blackberry 10, the company’s stock price has slipped to a level not seen since December 2003 because of mixed reaction to RIM’s offerings at the Blackberry World conference.
RIM’s shares lost approximately 5% of its value during in early and mid-Thursday trading, hitting $11.91.
This drop culminates a 15% drop, a 5% drop every day of the Blackberry World Conference where RIM CEO Thorsten Heins soft-launched the new OS and alpha devices to little fanfare.
CEO Heins told reporters at the conference that the company had become “a little fat at the hips” adding that RIM has an “uphill battle” in the American market.
“One thing really became obvious when I looked at various parts of the company was that we needed focus.”
You lose a little bit of line-of-sight on efficiency of the organization … because everything becomes an opportunity that you want to pursue,” CEO Heins said.
“RIM is not a gaming company, lets face it. RIM is not a maps company.”
CEO Heins said his goal is for RIM to become a “lean, mean hunting machine” focused on BlackBerry 10.
Analysts and enthusiasts largely had mixed reactions Blackberry’s new offerings displayed at Blackberry world. As a company that is loved for building devices with finger-efficient physical QWERTY keyboards, many found it curious when the first Blackberry devices RIM handed out to those in attendance came sans-keyboard.
As per a video making the rounds on YouTube from Seeking Alpha, RIM’s new touch screen keyboard is the slowest on the market. To tap out the sentence “Need to make sure that I leave early” it took the reviewer an agonizing 15-seconds, which is millennia compared to the 6.5 seconds it takes on an iPhone, or the 10.5 seconds it takes on a Motorola Droid.
GearBurn, however, took a more positive approach to RIM’s new keyboard approach. “True BlackBerry loyalists will bemoan RIM’s decision to pursue touchscreen keyboards, but the keyboard previewed on a BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device, looks promising,” blogged GearBurn’s Martin Carstens. “It’s also clear that RIM’s acquisition of The Astonishing Tribe [TAT] was a great move. The Cascades UI Engine will encourage a unified application look on BlackBerry 10 while still offering flexibility.”
CEO Heins was quick to assure those in attendance at the Blackberry World Conference that RIM wasn’t abandoning the physical keyboard.
“We won’t lose the focus on physical keypads. It would be wrong — just plain wrong to do this,” CEO Heins said.
While the keyboard-question left some Blackberry loyalists and investors with a sour taste in their mouth, a feature that universally wowed the crowd during the conference is RIM’s new camera app.
When a user takes a picture the app records the frames before and after the trigger is pressed, and with a Minority Report like interface allows the user to pick the perfect frame for the picture – free of blinks or unsavory expressions.
As market research shows a solid app library goes farther in selling phones than simply cool features, RIM is trying to woo developers with promises of a faster development process and cash prizes if their app gets “certified”.
RIM has fully intergraded the Cascades SDK, made by Swedish firm The Astonishing Tribe that RIM purchased in 2010, into the Blackberry 10 developers’ kit. The Cascade SDK allows developers to build apps in C/C++ using the Qt markup language. The benefit of the Cascades SDK is developers create commonly used UI graphic elements without having to hand-code them individually.
In order for developers to be eligible for the $10,000 app-bounty, the app must be certified by RIM. RIM hasn’t yet said what certification entails, though it has disclosed that apps must earn at least $1,000 on their own to be eligible.
RIM hasn’t disclosed when Blackberry 10 will be available, but CEO Heins has hinted that a fall release is likely.
While those who were at the conference say that CEO Heins had an “infectious enthusiasm” for his company during the entirety of the conference, is his charisma enough for the company to slay the Leviathan of Apple?