Judgement day arrives as RIM changes name to BlackBerry and announces Z10 and Q10
The company formerly known as RIM has finally unveiled the first two smartphones running the BlackBerry 10 operating system in what is widely viewed as a critical launch for the struggling Canadian manufacturer.
The 4.1-inch touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 and keyboard-based BlackBerry Q10 were shown off at an occasionally bizarre event, which saw a man cut his pony tail off, a rapper sing an original composition named “No Sleep Till BlackBerry 10” and Alica Keys named creative director of the company, which will now be called ‘BlackBerry’.
The two smartphones will be released in the UK tomorrow (31 January) on all major networks.
BlackBerry Z10 and Q10
CEO Thorsten Heins said that the launch marked the transition from mobile communications to mobile computing.
“Today sees a re-invented BlackBerry launching an entirely new mobile experience,” he said. “We are thrilled to be introducing BlackBerry 10 on the new BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10 smartphones, to deliver a faster, smarter experience that continuously adapts to your needs. Every feature, every gesture, and every detail in BlackBerry 10 is designed to keep you moving.”
The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 boast 1.5GHz dual core processors, 2GB of RAM and 16GB of storage, which can be upgraded via a memory card slot. Both have a micro HDMI port, NFC connectivity, removal batteries and support for LTE networks.
BlackBerry showed off a number of new features during the launch event, including multitasking options like BlackBerry Flow and BlackBerry Peak as well as BlackBerry Balance which separates work and personal data and applications.
BlackBerry Messenger has also been improved with video calling and the ability to share screens, while the touchscreen keyboard’s gesture controls and predictive text capabilities were also showcased.
Big challenge ahead
The company was also keen to stress that there will be 70,000 applications available at launch, including Skype, Kindle WhatsApp, SAP and, most importantly, Angry Birds. It added that deals had been signed with all major music labels and eight major film studios to make their content available on BlackBerry World.
BlackBerry 10 is seen as vital to the company’s chances of a revival after seeing its share of the smartphone market eroded by rivals such as Apple and Samsung. It hopes that the platform will appeal to both consumers and the enterprise, bridging the divide between business and pleasure.
It is banking that the administration and security components of the new platform will be enough to convince corporate and government customers to retain its services.
Last November, Jeff Holleran, senior director of enterprise products at RIM, told TechWeekEurope that BlackBerry 10 would provide administrators with “a set of tools that don’t exist on any other platform.”
However analysts predict that it faces a big challenge to regain its crown in the smartphone market.
“The user experience of BlackBerry 10 introduces some nice new features but importantly builds on Blackberry’s UI heritage and therefore will certainly appeal to existing Blackberry users,” commented Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum. “However, the challenge for the company will be to attract new users and those that have already moved to alternative smartphones.”
“BlackBerry has rightly focused on ensuring that the BlackBerry 10 devices have a large catalogue of content and applications which is now essential for any modern smartphone, and achieving 70,000 applications at the launch of a new platform is good start,” he added. “However, Ovum believes that despite a well-designed Blackberry 10 platform, that will certainly attract short-term interest from existing users the company will struggle to appeal to a wider audience and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market.”
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Originally published on eWeek.