Mark your calendars, BlackBerry fans. RIM's long-awatied (and delayed) BlackBerry 10 operating system will finally launch January 30th. At the grand unveiling RIM will also debut two new phones running the OS, one a full touch screen device and the other sporting a full keyboard. RIM said last month that it was already testing its new devices with 50 global carriers, so now it's all about crossing the finish line.
Will consumers like what they see from RIM? We did when we did our latest hands-on BlackBerry 10 preview. From the way the BlackBerry Hub aggregates all of your messages and social alerts--sort of like a super inbox--to the intuitive multitasking menu and predictive touch-friendly keyboard, BB 10 has a lot of welcome enhancements. But RIM needs to prove it can deliver this slick user experience inside devices that shoppers will be compelled to buy.
RIM CEO Thorstein Heins has said that the company has what it takes to be No. 3 in smart phones, but it's not going to be easy to reach even that modest milestone. The new BlackBerrys will have to compete with not only the iPhone 5 and Android superphones like the Samsung Galaxy Note II but also a breadth of new Windows Phone 8 devices like the Nokia Lumia 920 and HTC Windows Phone 8X.
Come January 30th we'll be paying close attention to how good the hardware is and how seamlessly the new BB 10 OS works, but also just how many developers RIM has attracted to is app store. The new BlackBerry App World is definitely looking better with the inclusion of music, movies and TV shows. But RIM will need to have its store stocked chock-full of high quality games and apps on Day 1, or else fickle smartphone shoppers might stop BlackBerry's comeback right in its tracks.