BlackBerry’s ticking clock

Shares of BlackBerry slipped almost 5 percent today after Home Depot announced it will issue iPhones to nearly 10,000 executives and managers, replacing the BlackBerry devices those employees currently use. A Home Depot spokesman confirmed the news, which was initially reported by Apple Insider, but declined to say exactly when the decision was made.

Losing a corporate customer is nothing new for BlackBerry, of course, which has seen its user base plummet over the last few years. But Home Depot’s decision underscores how urgently BlackBerry needs its new operating system to gain traction. Microsoft has had the luxury of slowly growing its Windows Phone audience for more than two years because no other platform has emerged to challenge Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, and because Research In Motion continued to bleed subscribers.

But Windows Phone has become a top-notch platform and is finally picking up a little steam, and several other operating systems will come to market this year. So BlackBerry 10 will have to bolt out of the gate if the Canadian developer is to get back in the race.