BlackBerry 10 reportedly delayed until March, near-term licensing deals deemed ‘unlikely’

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RIM sees Active Frames multitasking feature as one of BlackBerry 10′s difference makers
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RIM sees Active Frames multitasking feature as one of BlackBerry 10′s difference makers

Research in Motion (RIMM) had initially planned to launch its BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the third quarter this year, but delays pushed the release date back to early 2013. According to one analyst, the first BlackBerry 10 devices won’t be available until even later next year though — in a research note to investors on Tuesday, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek said that RIM’s first BlackBerry 10 phone might not launch until March.

“We had hoped for a January launch but now see a March launch as more likely,” he wrote. “Also, our checks point to a tough November quarter, with replenishment rates decreasing as channel partners are cautious on holding RIM inventory. We think the business uncertainty means parties are unlikely to acquire or license from RIM until BB10 launches.”

Misek has previously said that BlackBerry 10 will be a significant improvement over previous versions, although it won’t be enough to save RIM. Instead, the analyst believes Samsung (005930) could potentially be the company’s savior through a licensing deal or acquisition. Niether are expected to occur before BlackBerry 10 is released, though.

Despite the dominance of Android and iOS, Misek still believes a third ecosystem will emerge but he thinks BlackBerry 10′s success rides on future licensing deals.

“We still believe a third ecosystem [in addition to iOS and Android] will emerge, but the probability of BB10 filling the role is wholly dependent on whether RIM can convince Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE to license,” he wrote. “Baidu, Huawei, and others are pursuing their own operating systems. We also see Win 8 as somewhat of a threat but conflicting reviews, less-than-stellar developer feedback, and a desire by Microsoft to make hardware directly make Win 8.”

The analyst’s price target on RIM’s stock now sits at $5 a share with an Underperform rating.

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