(Source: Reuters)
RIM loads its last bullets into the chamber

In what very well could be Research in Motion Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) Alamo-esque final stand, the embattled Canadian smartphone maker will on January 30th announced finalized information about its operating system overhaul, BlackBerry 10.

Currently in the testing stages, the much-delayed BlackBerry 10 looks to advance the BlackBerry experience, bringing more modern graphical niceties and features such as near field communications.  The new operating system, based on the acquired QNX Unix-like operating system, is accompanied by a major hardware overhaul.  The new lineup will feature a mix of full touch-screen and half-height touch-screen + keyboard devices, with screen resolution and processing power bumped.

Of course, most of the features RIM is adding will only bring it up to speed with rivals like Google Inc. (GOOG) and Apple, Inc. (AAPL), so it remains to be seen whether RIM can even achieve its modest goal of being in third place (by beating Microsoft Corp.'s (MSFT) Windows Phone 8 platform).
BB10 screen resolution

In its announcement, RIM writes:

"In building BlackBerry 10, we set out to create a truly unique mobile computing experience that constantly adapts to your needs. Our team has been working tirelessly to bring our customers innovative features combined with a best in class browser, a rich application ecosystem, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities. All of this will be integrated into a user experience – the BlackBerry Flow – that is unlike any smartphone on the market today," said Thorsten Heins, President and CEO of Research In Motion. "Thanks to our strong partnerships with global carriers and a growing ecosystem of developers, we believe our customers will have the best experience possible with BlackBerry 10. We are looking forward to getting BlackBerry 10 in the hands of our customers around the world."

It is unclear whether the launch at the end of January will be a hard launch (i.e. whether actual product will go on sale that week), or whether it will be a soft launch with a later launch date -- possibly March, as analysts have predicted.

RIM's greatest strength is its loyal legion of business consumers.  In recent months it has suffered a number of high profile defections as government agencies and enterprise deployments have looked to ditch their BlackBerries for more popular rival devices.

Perhaps the most painful single piece of news was the U.S. Department of Defense's quiet announcement that it would be working to support iPhones and Android handsets, as possible replacements to BlackBerries.  However, the good news for RIM is that the switch is not yet final; for now the DOD is still supporting BlackBerries.

RIM Sign
It's do-or-die time for veteran RIM. [Image Source: BGR]

If RIM can convince its critics that it's keeping up with the times in terms of hardware, core apps, third party apps, and overall user interface design, perhaps it can win back some of these waivering supporters.

But RIM knows -- or should know, at least -- that BlackBerry 10 is a do-or-die release.  If it fails to impress, RIM will almost certainly be broken up and sold, to preserve shareholder value.  If it succeeds the veteran phonemaker may survive and live to fight another day.

Source: RIM

"Google fired a shot heard 'round the world, and now a second American company has answered the call to defend the rights of the Chinese people." -- Rep. Christopher H. Smith (R-N.J.)

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