**Editor's note: Please click here for our list of October's hottest selling smartphones to see how BlackBerry handsets fared against the competition.**
As fans of BlackBerry smartphones eagerly anticipate the release of Research In Motion's BlackBerry 10 devices, the debate swirls as to whether the Canada-based handset manufacturer can compete with rivals like Apple and a bevy of Android-based manufacturers that have started to dominate market share over the past few years.
Despite widespread pessimism that the ship has sailed for RIM and that its new BlackBerry 10 operating system won't be enough to save the once-dominant leader in smartphones, some prominent analysts are at least cautiously optimistic about RIM's future.
Jeffries & Co. recently upgraded its rating for RIM's stock, helping it cross the $10 mark for the first time in five months. The firm, basing its predictions on positive reactions from telecom carriers, says the BlackBerry maker could get as high as $43 over the next year if BB10 hits its mark.
“BlackBerry 10 was always a make-or-break bet for RIM. If this doesn’t work, its days as an end-to-end handset, operating system and services vendor are over," noted Yankee Group Senior VP Wally Swain, commenting on a Reuters report on the Jeffries rating. "The vultures will sweep in and the company will sell off bits – like QNX – that have demonstrable market value independent of BlackBerry. What is encouraging from this report – which agrees with what we have written lately – is that it says RIM has a legitimate shot at becoming the third ecosystem with BlackBerry 10 and the new devices."
Microsoft is making quite a push to offer the public a third successful operating system (in addition to Apple's iOS and Google's Android). The Redmond, Wash.-based computer giant is in the middle of a big marketing campaign promoting its Surface tablet and a handful of new Windows-based phones from manufacturers like Nokia and HTC. Some industry insiders have said Windows Phone will overtake iOS for second place by 2016.
BlackBerry 10 devices are expected to make their debut on Jan. 30, 2013.
"There will be a lot of pressure on the company for the new devices to perform and to capture the interest not only of the existing BlackBerry base but non-BlackBerry users as well," Swain added. "A touch device will be critical to the latter group. The former will probably be content with a QWERTY-based version. But at least RIM is taken seriously as a contender. It will get its chance in the ring."