RIM reckons more than 50 network operators are testing its BlackBerry 10 handsets, which sounds impressive until one remembers that testing is just a first step on the long journey to market.
Nonetheless, the trouble mobe maker is keen to prove its radio electronics and phone performance are up to scratch.
"We have passed a critical milestone in the development of our brand new mobile computing platform," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins gushed, adding that the handsets have achieved "lab entry".
Lab testing is a requirement for most mobile network operators, though few bother running handsets through the full gamut of testing if their competitors have already done so; engineers don't like repeating work any more than anyone else. Operators frequently receive requests from manufacturers, particularly lesser-known brands, to approve handsets, and most networks will run tech gear though trials in exchange for some cash.
Despite its wobbling finances, RIM is still a big enough player to get its handsets tested for free. And even if the BlackBerry 10 fails to be a commercial success, networks will still flog them albeit in small numbers, so RIM's engineers want to iron out any technical glitches at launch. Operators not selling the BlackBerrys will want to be sure that RIM customers can switch to their networks without any problems.
The only limit on lab testing for operators is actually getting hold of the devices, which are always in short supply as marketing, development and senior management all want to get their hands on the latest bling. RIM, no doubt aware of this, is showing off devices to all and sundry, and clearly has enough prototypes to go around so it's no surprise that testing is so widespread.
Only the most fundamental of lab failures would delay next year's launch of BlackBerry 10, so RIM's challenge is to ensure the company isn't forgotten before then, which is why it's harping on about what most would consider routine testing. ®