The wait is finally over. Tomorrow we finally see BB10 in what Research in Motion hopes will be all its glory. It really is a make or break quarter for the BlackBerry maker. If this launch is botched, then it seems likely the Canadian phone maker will go the way of Palm and fade into obscurity or the longstanding rumours that it will be taken over, whether it's by Microsoft, Samsung or Lenovo, will finally come to pass.
So what do we know? Two handsets are likely to be revealed, one touchscreen and one with the traditional Qwerty keyboard. RIM seems likely to launch the touchscreen first, a risky move given the sheer volume of touchscreen devices on the market. The Qwerty keyboard is still seen as a key differentiator and one that retailers are most excited about. So to go with touchscreen first is a gamble on RIM's part.
As you may have read last year, I did have a play around with BB10 OS, albeit on a slightly crude device built for developers. Its Peek and Flow systems of moving around the smartphone are quite smart and innovative, and a bit reminiscent of Windows Phone. But it is a nice alternative to Android and iOS.
As Mobile reported earlier this month, it is cooperating more with operators, ditching the service fees for its consumer devices. While this is only worth a few pounds per device per month, taking the hit themselves is long overdue. In these days of SIIIs and iPhone 5s, it seemed odd to expect operators to pay for services like email on a smartphone.
One surprise is the seeming lack of a prepay device, for the first few months at least. BlackBerry has had strong success in the UK prepay market, particularly with teens. While 2012 was a difficult year for RIM, Vodafone said its prepay handset sales doubled. Will the initial lack of a prepay device prove costly?
When even Samsung is warning of a difficult start to the year, you know the smartphone market is under pressure. As you can read in my colleague Carol Millett's piece, RIM is preparing its largest advertising campaign to date to back the device. It needs to. As rival handset manufacturers will tell you, trying to break into the Apple/Samsung duopoly requires killer devices, aggressive and convincing marketing and that critical wow-factor. It is unlikely RIM will reclaim its former glories - the market has moved on too far without them. But will BB10 be the point that RIM's fightback begins in earnest? We'll see tomorrow.