Research In Motion said it would change its name to BlackBerry and unveiled two new versions of the once ubiquitous phone yesterday as it embarked on a make-or-break drive to regain ground lost to rivals.
The Canadian firm’s aging line-up of devices has competed poorly in recent years against the likes of Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s wide array of Galaxy devices. The company’s share price has lost almost 90 per cent since its peak in 2008, but there were hopes that yesterday’s long awaited launch of the BlackBerry 10 would turn its fortunes around by allowing it to win back market share.
The launch follows a management overhaul last year.
Chief marketing officer Frank Boulben said the company would have a focused marketing push behind the revamped smartphones – a stylish touch-screen device and a more traditional physical keyboard device aimed at die-hard fans.
The name change underscores the close attention the firm is paying to marketing as it launches a product considered crucial to its survival. In the past, it was roundly criticised for botching the launch of the PlayBook tablet and other devices.
Boulben said: “BlackBerry is how we’re known pretty much everywhere across the world other than North America, so we have an iconic global brand and when you have such a powerful brand, you want to make it central.”
Colin Cieszynski, an analyst for CMC Markets in Canada, said investors’ focus would now shift to operational matters.
“The most important question will likely be, is this all enough to keep RIM going as a standalone company or will it be split up and sold?” he said.
Microsoft has been touted as a suitor for the BlackBerry maker in recent months.