After more than a year of buildup, Research In Motion officially unveiled its BlackBerry 10 at a media event in New York. BlackBerry is reinventing itself to compete with all-touch smartphones to revive its flagging sales. The company will be renamed “BlackBerry,” unifying and simplifying its brand
RIM plans to release at least six devices in 2013, beginning with an all-touch device, the 4.2-inch BlackBerry Z10, and a phone with a Qwerty keyboard, the BlackBerry Q10. In Canada, the Z10 will launch on Feb. 5. In the United Kingdom, the Z10 will be available Thursday. But the phones will not be available in the U.S. market until mid-March, blaming the delay on the longer time it takes for U.S. carriers to test new devices.
Verizon Wireless said it will launch the Z10 for $199.99 with a two-year contract, but did not give a release date. Verizon also said it will launch the Q10. Sprint Nextel said it will launch the Q10 later this year but it did not give availability or a price. The Q10 should be available in the U.S. in April.
The release of BB10, which was delayed twice, comes as RIM’s smartphone market share has plummeted. BlackBerry’s 3.4 percent global market share in the fourth quarter, is down from 20 percent three years before. According to IDC, RIM captured 4.6 percent of the global smartphone market for the full-year 2012, down from 10.3 percent from 2011. Its North American market share is even worse: a mere 2 percent in the fourth quarter.
BlackBerry 10 is a full redesign of RIM’s existing BlackBerry operating system. CEO Thorsten Heins said the platform is for people who are “true multitaskers” and “hyper-connected socially,” who want to get things done on their phones.
BlackBerry 10′s app store with over 70,000 applications in time for the launch, including heavy-hitters like Skype, Amazon’s Kindle, Facebook, Twitter, FourSquare, and of course Angry Birds. The 70,000 apps include “more than one thousand” high-demand applications from big partners.
The BlackBerry 10, is based on software from QNX, and will be used for machine-to-machine applications. “We have created a platform that is able to work with other machines,” he said, adding that RIM can “extend it to devices, to the home, your healthcare system or wherever you are. This is the promise of the BlackBerry 10 platform.”
The new platform features a new user interface. BlackBerry Hub combines users’ various inboxes, messages and social media notifications. BlackBerry Flow allows users to scroll seamlessly between apps. BlackBerry Peek allows users to glance at another application without leaving the one a user is currently running. In BB10, RIM has added a video-chat feature similar to Apple’s FaceTime.
CEO Thorsten Heins noted that the device enables switching between two profiles — work and personal, allowing users to carry one device for business and home life rather than toting around two devices.
Strategy Analytics estimated share by OS shows Google’s OS platform jumped from 51.3 percent in fall 2011 to 70.1 percent in fall 2012. Apple had about 22 percent, although it’s mostly other platforms that took the bruising. Collectively, BlackBerry, Symbian, Windows Phone and other platforms sank from 25.1 percent of the smartphone space in late 2011 to just 7.9 points at the end of 2012.