Research in Motion has rebranded under the name ‘Blackberry’, as the Canadian smartphone maker looks to regain lost market share to Android and Apple with its new BB10 device. The two new flagship devices are the Z10, a sleek smartphone with a 4.2-inch display, and a less expensive version, the Q10, which retains a physical keyboard.
Watch this Channel 4 report on the BB10 launch:
BB10’s new operating system will finally enable BlackBerry to compete against Android and Apple’s iOS software.
For the first time, the new BlackBerry 10 phones will feature a large app library, including services such as Skype and the popular game Angry Birds.
New features include ‘BlackBerry Flow’, which lets users seamlessly hop from one app to the next by swiping. ‘BlackBerry Hub’ culls all emails, social updates, and texts into one centralised area.
Meanwhile, ‘BlackBerry Remember’ lets users flag an email, webpage, bookmark, or document, and keep track of these items as a to-do list, and ‘Peek’ is a swiping gesture to give users access to a notifications window without having to leave an application.
The BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen device, in black or white, will be the first to hit the market, with a country-by-country roll-out that starts in Britain on Thursday.
A Q10 model, equipped with small “qwerty” keyboard that RIM made into its trademark, will launch globally in April.
The long-delayed BB10 was initially slated for a 2011 launch, but it pushed the date back twice as it struggled to work with a new operating system.
At a glitzy launch event which spanned 6 countries simultaneously, Chief Executive Thorsten Heins also announced that RIM was abandoning the name it has used since its inception in 1985 to take the name of its signature product, signalling his hopes for a fresh start for the company that pioneered mobile email.
“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry,” Heins said at the New York launch. “It is one brand; it is one promise.”
RIM, which is already starting to call itself BlackBerry, Ahead of Wednesday’s announcements, analysts had said that any launch after February would be a black mark for the Canadian company.
RIM launched its first BlackBerry back in 1999 as a way for busy executives to stay in touch with their clients and their offices, and the Canadian company quickly cornered the market for secure corporate and government email.
But its star faded as competition rose. The BlackBerry is now a far-behind also-ran in the race for market share, with a 3.4 percent global showing in the fourth quarter, down from 20 percent three years before. Its North American market share is even worse: a mere 2 percent in the fourth quarter.
RIM shares tumbled along with the company’s market share, and the stock is down 90 percent from its 2008 peak.
The shares fell as much as 8 percent on Wednesday, although they are still more than twice the level of their September 2012 low, reflecting ever-louder buzz about the new devices.
RIM, which is investing in a Superbowl ad to promote its new phones, also introduced Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Alicia Keys as its global creative director.
“I was in a long-term relationship with BlackBerry, and then I started to notice some new, kind of hotter, attractive, sexier phones at the gym, and I kind of broke up with you for something that had a little more bling,” Keys said at the New York launch.
“But I always missed the way you organized my life, and the way you were there for me at my job, and so I started to have two phones – I was kind of playing the field. But then … you added a lot more features … and now, we’re exclusively dating again, and I’m very happy.”
Watch this Channel 4 interview with Stephen Bates, European MD of Blackberry discussing the launch below: