Jan 30, 2013 / 10:26 am
The new BlackBerry 10 is launching this morning in New York City. It is widely seen as a make or break product for the company. We will be providing continuous updates as the event unfolds.
10:25 a.m. update: A hometown crowd cheered the new corporate name for Research In Motion and the new BlackBerry 10 phones as they were officially launched in New York City.
More than 150 local politicians and tech-savvy business people filled a hall in Waterloo, Ont., to watch RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins make a glitzy, Steve Jobs-style presentation of the new flagship product.
The crowd let out a roar as Heins flashed the smartphones, seen as make-or-break devices for the company, a major employer in the Waterloo region.
They also cheered and applauded when RIM's new name, BlackBerry, was announced, although not quite as loudly.
The event kicked off a day of planned celebrations in the city, which has strung up BlackBerry street pole banners marking the launch.
Carl Zehr, the mayor of sister city Kitchener, says the BlackBerry 10 is a "game changer" that will boost sales for the embattled RIM.
10:20 a.m. update: Canada's smartphone pioneer will have a new BlackBerry in Canadian stores next Tuesday, the start of a new chapter for a rebranded company that's seen its once dominant position trounced by the competition.
The BlackBerry Z10, a touchscreen model, will be the first to hit the shelves while the BlackBerry Q10, which will have a physical keyboard, will follow in April, a move that was signalled last year by the company.
9:30 a.m. update: Research In Motion has launched its new line of smartphones -- one a touchscreen and the other sporting a physical keyboard -- and has changed its corporate name to BlackBerry, the moniker of its globally recognized smartphones.
The company made the announcement Wednesday during a splashy event in Manhattan to usher in the new BlackBerry 10 devices, which were originally due for release last year.
The new BlackBerry is widely seen as a make-or-break product for the tech pioneer.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins took to the stage at Pier 36, a massive entertainment venue on the shores of the East River, to unveil the BlackBerry Z10, the touchscreen model, and the BlackBerry Q10, which will have a physical keyboard.
Both are powered by the new BB10 operating system.
"We heard you loud and clear," Heins told the audience. "We built this for those people who said they just had to have the physical keyboard typing experience."
Heins called the event a "new day in the history of BlackBerry."
The new phone launch is BlackBerry's attempt to regain its position in the highly competitive North American and European smartphone markets, which are now dominated by iPhone and Android devices.
While the first hurdles to overcome are the opinions of tech analysts and investor reaction, the true measure of success -- actual sales of the phones -- is still weeks away.
The event will also likely include release dates for the phones, expected in the next four to six weeks, and how much they will cost.
Among the features being touted at Wednesday's event:
- As you type, the operating system predicts what word you want and you can swipe to have it auto-completed.
- BlackBerry Hub acts as one place for all incoming messages, email, BBM, social media.
- BlackBerry Balance then allows one phone to operate as both a business and personal device entirely separate from each other.
- Apps have been divided into two sections by tabs at the top of the screen, labelled Personal and Work.
- The new BlackBerry will also let users seamlessly shift between the phone's applications like they're flipping between pages on a desk.
The company has said the new BlackBerry will be released first in a touchscreen version, while a keypad alternative will follow in the weeks or months afterward.
RIM shares had gained as much as four per cent ahead of the launch. But the stock later fell about three per cent, down 48 cents to $15.23 on the TSX following the start of the presentation.
The stock had declined over the past two sessions -- 3.4 per cent Tuesday and a 7.6 per cent drop on Monday.
But that was viewed merely as profit taking as the stock has staged a huge comeback since hitting a fresh 52-week low of $6.10 last September. As of last Friday, RIM's share price had soared 50 per cent during January alone.
The BlackBerry has dramatically lost marketshare in recent years after a series of blunders.
Several network outages left customers without the use of the smartphones they had come to rely on, while the BlackBerry's hardware hasn't received a significant upgrade in years.
In the coming weeks, BlackBerry will launch an advertising blitz to promote the phones, including aggressive social media campaigning, which includes plugs from celebrities on their Twitter accounts, and a 30-second advertisement on the Super Bowl, the most watched television program of the year.
Update: 8:15 a.m. PST: The newly unveiled BlackBerry Z10 smartphone -- a touchscreen model -- will be available in Canada next Tuesday and in the U.S. in March. The BlackBerry Q10, which will have a physical keyboard, will follow at a later date -- a move that was signalled earlier by the company. The new BlackBerry models are widely seen as a make-or-break product for RIM.
Update: 8:53 a.m. PST: Research in Motion's home town is giving thumbs up to the new Blackberry 10 phones unveiled at the official launch in New York City.
More than 150 local politicians and tech-savvy business people filled a hall in Waterloo, Ont., to watch RIM chief executive Thornsten Heins make a glitzy, Steve Jobs-style presentation of the new flagship product.
Carl Zehr, the mayor of sister city Kitchener, says the Blackberry 10 is a "game changer" that will boost sales for the embattled RIM.
But Zehr says the area's high tech industry has broadened beyond RIM in recent years, and can survive if the Blackberry 10 falls short of expectations.
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