A Swedish Tribe Aids BlackBerry Rescue Bid – WSJ.com
If he is successful, a big chunk of the credit will go to a small acquisition RIM made more than a year before Mr. Heins took over in January. In 2010 RIM bought Sweden-based The Astonishing Tribe, a small but respected tech-design house, and charged it with reinventing the look and feel of the BlackBerry’s user interface.
That interface recently has garnered positive reviews from analysts, RIM partners and some outside application developers, who are testing thousands of prototypes of the new BlackBerry operating system.
Many of those early endorsements have been hedged, however, because the final version hasn’t been available. Most app developers, who are key to RIM’s success, largely are withholding judgment until after the Jan. 30 launch.
“It is going to be a massive departure from the BlackBerry experience of the past,” said Chris Eben, a partner at Toronto-based Working Group, a Web and mobile development-and-design firm that does work for RIM. Mr. Eben has used the prototype.
Odds that RIM can recapture the market dominance it once enjoyed in smartphones appear slim. Consulting firm IDC recently estimated that RIM’s share of the global smartphone market stands at 4.7%, down from 9.5% at this time last year and from more than 50% in 2009. Even among RIM’s core customer base—corporate and government clients—IDC expects shipments of Apple Inc.’s [AAPL -3.76%] iPhones to surpass those for BlackBerry by next year.