In what may be a last-ditch survival attempt, Research In Motionplugged its new BlackBerry 10 in a Wednesday press conference.
“I want this BlackBerry 10 to be perfect,” CEO Thorsten Heins said to a gathering of thousands of app developers and potential partners.
Though his company faces an “uphill battle” in the U.S. market, Heins said he is determined to unveil the BlackBerry 10 this year. He confirmed to CNBC that there will be physical keyboards in the BlackBerry 10 portfolio.
Earlier, there was some confusion about the fate of the hard keyboard as the prototype shown had only a virtual keyboard.
“We want [the] typing experience on Blackberry to be best in the world,” said Heins.
Despite the sales pitch, Scott Sutherland, managing director for Wedbush Securities, doubts the company’s ability to compete with Apple — whether it has a user-friendly keyboard or not.
“What they lack is the ecosystem of app developers, with almost one-tenth the number of Apple’s developers,” Sutherland said on CNBC's Squawk on the Street.
“And they lack an ecosystem of devices — things like the PC and media players; even their tablet trails the iPad greatly to access content in the cloud .”
While Wednesday’s conference is a direct appeal to app developers, Sutherland said this alone is not enough for Research In Motion to change course; it must also expand its device offerings.
“If they address the device side, by moving beyond being just a smartphone manufacturer, that would solve another big problem,” said Sutherland.
Jeff Kilburg, managing partner of Kilburg Capital and CNBC contributor, thinks RIM is a "buy."
“I think you have to consider stepping in and buying here [because] we have seen the stock absolutely decimated," Kilburg said. "I think RIM is due. There is high expectation on this BlackBerry 10, so get in at this $12 to $13 price level.”
Currently, Research In Motion holds less than 7 percent of the world’s smartphone market.
Without solving shortfalls in both app developers and device offerings, Sutherland said, “there’s a lot of trouble ahead for the company.”
By trouble, he means competition. As Apple and Google Android device makers begin to move into lower-priced developing markets, where Research In Motion is planning its comeback, Sutherland expects further subscriber losses.
The company’s stock on Wednesday traded under $13 a share, and Wedbush Securities’ target is actually “slightly” higher.
“We think there’s obvious value in some of the parts of the company,” said Sutherland. “They have a great patent portfolio. We just think the device part of the market for RIM is troubling.”
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Scott Sutherland does not personally own shares of RIMM, but Wedbush Securities makes a market (matches buyers and sellers) of the stock. Jeff Kilburg does not personally own RIMM shares.
Follow Jennifer Leigh Parker on Twitter @jparker741.