In a synchronised global launch event, RIM has shed its beleaguered company name while launching the BlackBerry 10 operating system, and two new smartphones.
After over a year of build-up and speculation, which CEO Torsten Heins called "easily the most challenging year of my career, but also the most exhilarating and rewarding," the company, now simply called BlackBerry, unveiled the BlackBerry 10 OS and two phones, one with a physical QWERTY keyboard (the BlackBerry Q10), one without (the BlackBerry Z10).
BlackBerry 10 seems a considered take on a mobile operating system, with its central "BlackBerry Hub" HUD incorporating a "Flow" system that effectively minimises apps to allow what looks like true multitasking. The given example included a video being pushed to the side on the touchscreen, with an email inbox being "peeked" as the video continued to play.
After the "tough choice" of whether to take on another company's software or continue to go it alone, BlackBerry has not disappointed with the number of business partners it's got on board for BlackBerry 10; launching with 70,000 apps and with "thousands more" to be added every week, in what BlackBerry claims is the best-supported first-generation mobile platform ever released.
With "all major music labels" and eight major movie studios also on board, content-wise BlackBerry 10 looks like it's making a solid play for a mixed enterprise and consumer space.
The platform's enterprise possibilities seem solid. A BBM-driven video conferencing demonstration between London and New York showed crisp, high-resolution video and a robust, low-lag screen sharing option. Meanwhile, BlackBerry Balance addresses BYOD security concerns by allowing controlled siloing of business and personal information.
Advanced photo editing and a particularly interesting PowerPoint-style presentation creator named Story Maker complete a compelling package.
Heins said the company's employees had been "at their most creative, most engaged, and most committed" in building BlackBerry 10, and that the platform will "shape the industry in the same way as the original BlackBerry did a decade ago".
It's early doors, but Computing believes that a set of dedicated, and genuinely useful, enterprise additions (particularly BlackBerry Balance) could make BlackBerry 10 unique in the market. We'll be getting more intimately acquainted with a BlackBerry Z10 over coming weeks, so check back for a verdict.
The keyboardless BlackBerry Z10 will be available in the UK from tomorrow, with the QWERTY-laden Q10 due for an April 2013 release.
Musician Alicia Keys was also today announced as BlackBerry 10's "global creative director", but this is a fact that belongs at the very bottom of a news article.
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