Kaufman Bros. analyst Shaw Wu said in a research note yesterday that BlackBerry 6, the next version of Research in Motion’s BlackBerry operating system, may not come out on CDMA networks like Sprint and Verizon until 2011.
Almost 80% of all wireless networks use GSM technology, so, it makes sense that RIM would target the biggest audience for the release their newest OS. We believe that the BlackBerry 9800 (BlackBerry Slider) will be the first device to run BlackBerry 6 and that it will come out on AT&T in the August / September timeframe. The problem for RIM, however, is that most BlackBerry devices are purchased here in the United States where the majority of BlackBerry users are CDMA BlackBerry users.
Verizon’s smartphone of choice used to be the BlackBerry. That changed, however, after RIM’s failings with the BlackBerry Storm / Storm2 and Verizon’s introduction of the Motorola Droid. It is clear that Verizon intends to sell as many Android devices as physically possible and if there isn’t a new CDMA BlackBerry 6 powered device ready to roll soon after the release of the BlackBerry Slider, RIM will see further strain on their Verizon relationship that once fueled over 40% of RIM’s revenues.
Today, Verizon only accounts for 10% to 15% of RIM’s revenue and that number will surely continue to dwindle if Verizon doesn’t get a new device running BlackBerry 6 shortly after the launch of BlackBerry 6. I personally have been a die hard Verizon BlackBerry user for the last seven years. I won’t, however, buy another BlackBerry device that runs an OS less than BlackBerry 6 and I have no intention on leaving Verizon.
I’d be willing to bet that a lot over Verizon BlackBerry users feel the same way that I do and a really big issue for RIM is that Verizon sold a ridiculous number of BlackBerry devices in the late summer and fall of 2008. This means that a lot of Verizon BlackBerry subscribers are coming off of their 2-year agreements. Some will just hang on to their devices until a BlackBerry 6 model comes out. Some will upgrade into a newer BlackBerry that runs something less than BlackBerry 6, and many (read millions) will leave platform all together for whatever Verizon is pumping 100s of millions of advertising dollars into making it seem like it is the coolest smartphone of all time…
I am guessing that will be a pretty sweet line-up of Android powered devices…