The first BlackBerry 10 handsets may not arrive until March next year, according to a leading industry analyst.

Peter Misek, of the Jefferies research firm, reckons the stricken smartphone giant is unlikely to push out the crucial OS before the third month of the year, despite recent claims to the contrary.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins' recently stated that the first, all-touchscreen handset would arrive in January, following a series of long hold-ups.

However, in a note to investors, Misek wrote: "We had hoped for a January launch but now see a March launch as more likely," without elaborating on why RIM may encounter further delays.

Stayin' alive

RIM has always maintained that it would not release BB10 until it was the finished article, citing that launching an incomplete OS would do more harm than good.

However, with the company seemingly desperate to keep its head above water in these next few months leading up to the launch, a further delay could prove very damaging.

All hope is not lost though, according to Misek, who said that if RIM can entice the likes of Samsung, Huawei and ZTE to license the software, BB10 could still be a solid third tier player.

He added: "We still believe a third ecosystem [in addition to iOS and Android] will emerge, but the probability of BB10 filling the role is wholly dependent on whether RIM can convince Samsung, Huawei, and ZTE to license."

Via Forbes, SlashGear