Shares in Research in Motion – the Canadian company which overnight renamed itself Blackberry, after its only product – fell after analysts had only lukewarm praise for the company’s new OS, Blackberry 10, and executives revealed the first product to use the long-anticipated system won’t be launched in the US until sometime in March and in Australia in late April or May.Telstra insiders have told SmartHouse that they have only recently received the new smartphone for evaluation and that it could take up to 16 weeks from the third week of January before the device is approved for sale on their network. This would see the device going on sale after the new HTC M7 which is expected to be unveiled at a press conference in New York City and in London next month. Telstra is believed to already have a sample of the new 4G smartphone. They will also have to compete with a new Samsung Galaxy S4 and possibly an upgraded iPhone.
At a press briefing yesterday, Blackberry executives said that they were only ‘hopeful’ of seeing the Blackberry Z10 with a 4.2-inch high-res display and LTE connections by March.
The only other product announced yesterday – a traditional looking Blackberry with a physical thumb-operated keyboard and a small screen – appears to be months away: mid-April at the earliest.
So far there’s been no mention of a Blackberry 10 tablet to replace the low-selling PlayBook.
RIM shares (they won’t be renamed BlackBerry for a week or so) tumbled almost 12 percent, as investors expressed doubts that the new products – and new name – will be enough to restore the fortunes of the Canadian company, currently reduced to about 1.7 percent of the global market, now dominated by Apple and Google with more than 90pc between them.
CEO Thorsten Heins’ presentation to a sometimes lukewarm audience in New York made it plain that BlackBerry – like Microsoft – sees its best chance in trying to attract the business market.
Blackberry 10 and the touch-enabled Blackberry Z10 are plainly aimed at the BYOD market. A major feature is “BlackBerry Balance” which maintains divisions between personal and work material, with each strictly secured.
Another is the BlackBerry Hub which presents a single place for all communications – e-mail, instant messaging, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networking. BlackBerry Messenger in BlackBerry 10 includes voice calling and video chat, and introduces screen sharing with other users.
One of the niftiest features on the Z10 is “predictive typing”. This learns words you use often and displays them in tiny type above the on-screen rows of letters – with a flick of thumb or finger you have swiftly put them into a message without having to type more than a letter or two.
Unusual thumb or finger swiping gestures are an essential part of the BB10 experience, and will mean an extensive learning experience for new BlackBerry buyers. Users will first have to complete a video tutorial before signing on, and BlackBerry plans an extensive educational campaign.
Executives claim it will have 70,000 apps at launch, with another 20-25,000 to come soon after. They will include Microsoft’s Skype, as well as Cisco’s WebEx, Facebook, Twitter, DropBox, TuneIn Radio and – natch -Angry Birds.