Apple and Samsung dominate the current smart-phone market. Perennial player Research in Motion, though, recently renewed its efforts to compete by doing more than changing its name to BlackBerry. The company also announced the BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system (OS) and the Z10 and Q10 smart-phone models.

According to market researchers IHS, the new OS will be key in driving the company’s success. It will be an uphill battle, however. Samsung and Apple accounted for approximately 50% of global smart-phone shipments in 2012, while RIM’s share fell to 5.2% and sixth place in the market, according to IHS. In 2009, RIM commanded 18.7% of the market and ranked second, IHS added.

“The new operating system and phones increase the chances that BlackBerry can regain some of its lost market share during the make-or-break year of 2013. However, in order to claim the title as the smart-phone market’s third ecosystem after Google and Apple—a distinction now being pursued by a range of competitors—BlackBerry needs to bring its ‘A game’ in all areas,” said Ian Fogg, senior principal analyst for IHS.

IHS notes that BlackBerry is off to a good start with a unique communications-centric user interface (UI), branded BlackBerry Flow and Peek, that integrates social media like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook into a single flowing experience instead of including them as separate apps, which is how they are experienced on iOS and Android smart phones.

“BlackBerry 10 will appeal to the significant number of consumers that are yet to adopt smart phones because they are unmotivated by current entertainment and Internet apps, but are instead communications-centric,” Fogg said. “This focus on communications also will go a long way to winning back ex-BlackBerry owners.”

IHS also cites how BlackBerry’s potential operator partners in the mobile market will help it compete with Google, Samsung, Apple, and Microsoft. These operators, which are key to smart-phone sales and distribution in most developed countries, greatly desire alternatives to the current market leaders and will support BlackBerry’s marketing efforts, IHS says.

“Further concentration of the smart-phone market would weaken the position of operators with those smart-phone leaders in negotiations over sourcing devices or in ensuring that operators’ content and communication services products are not bypassed by smart-phone software,” Fogg said. “Operators must spend now to support the BlackBerry 10 products if they wish to avoid the current smart-phone duopoly becoming entrenched for the long term.”

Microsoft has yet to establish Windows Phone as the third mobile ecosystem that operators desire, according to IHS. In the fourth quarter of 2012, lead Windows Phone backer Nokia only shipped 4.4 million Lumia Windows Phones. Also, Microsoft has failed to leverage its strength in enterprise software from its Office and server product lines to drive Windows Phone adoption, IHS says, opening opportunities for BlackBerry in the enterprise and among operator partners.

“BlackBerry 10 is a smart launch from a smart company that has marshaled its relatively modest resources effectively to create a range of next-generation smart phones that are differentiated compared to what’s on the martket now,” Fogg said. “However, to compete with the big boys, BlackBerry will need to execute every part of its playbook perfectly during the next 12 months. If BlackBerry fails in any phase, it will be ‘game over’ for the company’s comeback story.”

Other market researchers are optimistic about BlackBerry’s chances too. Analysys Mason, for example, says that the X10 and Q10 have all the ingredients necessary for success, though the company notes that good technology and design is only the first step. The X10 and Q10 retail price will be too high for new smart-phone users, the researchers warn, so their target market will be existing smart-phone users.

BlackBerry’s ability to gain market share will be linked to its applications ecosystem, Analysys Mason notes, since tail apps from Google Play and the Apple App Store see at least 10 times more engagement than other platforms. BlackBerry also must win over CIOs and employees with a robust selection of enterprise apps and an improved UI while pushing the benefits of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES). Apple, Android, and even Windows Phone will offer stiff competition.

Aware of this challenge, BlackBerry included a host of applications for the workplace developed by enterprises and enterprise developers when BlackBerry 10 launched on January 30. These releases included applications from Cisco, SAP, Box, Bloomberg, the Wall Street Journal, Truphone, and BigHand.

Before the launch, BlackBerry provided developers with toolkits that included the BlackBerry 10 Native SDK with Cascades to create native apps in C/C++ or the Q++ Modeling Language (QML). It also offered the BlackBerry 10 WebWorks SDK for HTML5 developers, enabling them to create native-like apps using common Web programming technologies such as HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript.

Additionally, RIM launched BlackBerry Partners for Enterprise last year to succeed the BlackBerry Alliance program and increase support to the enterprise software and services community. The company also rolled out its BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour Enterprise Edition to 11 cities to help enterprise application developers and partners develop for or port existing applications to BlackBerry 10.

Analysys Mason