U.S. analyst gives RIM's BB10 small chance of success with new operating system

TORONTO – A prominent tech analyst is giving Research In Motion’s new operating system a small but improved chance of success in the competitive smartphone market when it launches in early 2013.

Analyst Peter Misek of New York-based Jeffries & Company said Tuesday that he’s still giving the BlackBerry 10 operating system only a 20 per cent to 30 per cent probability of success.

But that’s an improvement on his previous assessment of 10 per cent to 20 per cent chance of success — a change in opinion that he attributed to surprisingly strong support among some wireless carriers.

“Preliminary results from our quarterly handset survey indicate developed market carriers have a much more positive view of BB10 than we expected,” Misek said in a research note.

“With greater carrier shelf space and marketing support, we now believe BB10 has a 20 per cent to 30 per cent probability of success,” he said.

He said consumer demand will be the “ultimate determinate” for the Waterloo, Ont., smartphone maker.

Misek also said he was “a bit puzzled” by the carriers’ more positive outlook on BB10, given that RIM’s new operating system is two years late and the company’s market share has plunged to five per cent from 20 per cent.

“Our theory is that carriers see BB10 as one of their last chances to avoid being locked into a long-term smartphone OS duopoly,” he said, referring to Apple and Android operating systems.

But after trying BB10, its web browsing is as good or “potentially superior” to Android smartphones but a “little inferior” to Apple’s new iPhone 5, Misek said in an interview with the BNN business television channel.

RIM will also have to compete with Microsoft’s Windows Phone 8 smartphone operating system.

BlackBerry smartphones have often been criticized by analysts for not providing an easy-to-use web browsing experience.

“They have got to compete against Apple, Google and Microsoft. These are not small competitors,” Misek told BNN.

He said the success of RIM’s BB10 smartphones won’t be known until early May when sales numbers come in.

Misek says in his research note that he has raised his target price for RIM to $10 from $5, and raised his rating on the stock to hold from underperform.

Shares in Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) closed up 11 cents to $9.70 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday.