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In May of 2011, Research in Motion announced the availability of their first Blackberry Bold handsets based on OS 7, which included a number of multimedia and social networking improvements.
All of this was good on paper, except that the company's Co-Chief Executive, Mike Lazaridis was busy telling crowds that the new phones would not be upgradeable to their next-generation QNX OS due the following year, which is now known as BlackBerry 10.
As a result, this has put an effective freeze on traditional BlackBerry 7 handset sales and market share of RIM products has dropped into single digit percentage levels.
A major management restructuring of the company has occurred, including the ouster of both Co-Founders and Chief Executives.
BlackBerry 10 handsets are unlikely to ship until at least October of 2012, and the company has retained JP Morgan and the Royal Bank of Canada to determine go-forward options for the Waterloo, Ontario smartphone vendor, presumably including asset divestiture, severe austerity measures (large rounds of layoffs) and the sale of the entire company.
Nokia CEO Stephen Elop took a big risk by declaring his company of 125,000+ employees as sitting on a "Burning Platform" in a widely-distributed memo which he wrote in February of 2011. Their current line of Symbian and MeeGo-based phones, he noted, were inferior to the products which were shipping by competitors from Apple and the Android OEMs.
Shortly after issuing this memo, Nokia entered a partnership with Microsoft to produce Windows Phone-based devices. Sales of their high-end Symbian and MeeGo-based smartphones have since went in the toilet, and the company as a whole has been struggling to stay afloat.
While their recently released Lumia 900 Windows Phone-based handset has garnered fairly positive reviews, the company's financial situation is dire and is expected to burn through its cash reserves in 2013 unless a miraculous turnaround occurs.
This week's announcement by Microsoft of Windows Phone 8's feature set took many users by surprise -- that the current generation of Windows Phone 7 devices -- including Nokia's flagship Lumia 900 which only launched in late April of this year -- will not be upgradeable to the new mobile operating system.
Instead, they will get a consolation prize, Windows Phone 7.8, that gives them a new menu screen and some very minor improvements.While there hasn't been any indications of a Windows Phone sales slowdown yet -- as the platform only occupies single digit marketshare territory -- this cannot possibly be a positive development for the OEMs selling Windows Phone products with significant inventory in the sales channel.