5 Things We Did Not Know About BlackBerry 10

By Lori Castle, Editor in Chief — January 30, 2013

The sun has set on BlackBerry 10 launch day, and risen again in some places, as events took place at various locations around the world today, January 30.

In New York, President and CEO Thorsten Heins; Vivek Bhardwaj head of software portfolio; Alec Saunders, VP Developer Relations; and a host of other executives debuted the final hardware, performed a demo, emphasized apps, reclaimed the enterprise, put a stake in BYOD and joked about taking a vacation.

Much of what was reviewed had been pushed out in recent PR or through social media. We knew there would be a new virtual keyboard with a new way of typing dubbed "flicking," and a QWERTY option for the diehards.

We knew about the most touted features; the "Hub" — which allows all apps to be open at once and enables users to swipe, “with a single gesture” back and forth between task, peaking, working, playing.
 
We knew about BYOD ready BlackBerry Balance, through which the "container" feature of the device is managed; and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 which can managed mixed-device environments.  But, here's three things we didn't know about BlackBerry 10 before today, and two things we still don't know for sure.

1.    What's In a Name? There was definite rebranding at RIM prior to launch, with BlackBerry App World becoming BlackBerry World and BlackBerry World becoming BlackBerry Live. So it may or may not be a surprise that RIM has taken on the BlackBerry name and RIM is no more.

Heins announced, "From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry. It is one brand, one promise. Our customers use BlackBerry. Our employees work for BlackBerry…from today on, we are BlackBerry everywhere in the world."

The other play on nomenclature was Heins’ reference to a “transformation." So while BlackBerry 10 is indeed a platform, an OS and a device(s), he speaks of it more as a move from “mobile communications” to “true mobile computing."

He believes that mobile experiences will connect the user to the "whole world" and that each person will be in the middle of their "personal internet of things." "We will be a leader in connecting you to your internet of things," he said.

The BlackBerry platform can work with other machines to extend information beyond the mobile device — to things like cars, healthcare systems and homes. "Or wherever you are; this is the promise of the BlackBerry 10 platform," Heins proclaimed.

2.   Cool Factors: Z10, the virtual keyboard device was the main focus of the day, and touts what many of the speakers dubbed  "cool factors." Of note, is the size of the device, coming in with a 4.2-inch touchscreen and 1280 x 768 resolution at 356ppi. This is in line with a trend coming out of the recent CES and something Bhardwaj said they knew was "important."
 
BlackBerry "Remember" is a new app that brings content together. Referring to that well-deserved vacation, Bhardwaj was able to show how any related content can easily come together in one folder — notes, attachments, videos, etc.
 
With BlackBerry "Storymaker," you can create your own mini movies in a few easy steps, then share them with your social networks. Select the photos, videos and music you’d like featured in your movie, add a few titles, then choose from the premade filters and effects to give it that professional polish. "It’s designed to make you feel like the director of your own Hollywood flick."
 
The BlackBerry 10 camera has "time shift" capabilities. The camera captures "milliseconds" before and after your photo — so you can scroll back on the dial to open one friend’s eyes and then forward to catch your other friend smiling, before combining it all to create the perfect picture.
 
These and other "cool factors" are demoed on the BlackBerry 10 site.

3.    Celebrity On Board: In a play, presumably for the BYOD-driving consumer market, Heins announced a new company executive: Alicia Keys was named global creative director and took the stage.
 
Keys talked about her "old love" of BlackBerry, her "break up" with BlackBerry and their new "exclusive relationship." She will be working with the "app designers, developers, retailers and carriers" to create new ideas.
 
The BlackBerry 10 tagline is "Built to Keep You Moving," and to support this, Keys is exploring collaborations with athletes, writers, artists and musicians for the  "Keep Moving Project" — to use BlackBerry 10 as a platform to "create something special."
 
Certainly celebrity appeal will add to the perceived "coolness" of BlackBerry, which Keys admitted had, in the past, conjured up images of men in suits. To that end, Heins and Keys referenced the "working mom," who is now a key target for BlackBerry.
 
4.    What We Still Don’t Know: At the launch event, Heins kept deferring to the carrier requirements when pressed about the devices’ issue dates in the United States. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal prior to the launch, he expressed excitement about the availability in Canada and the U.K, but regret about the delay in the U.S.
 
What’s known? All four major U.S. carriers will offer one, if not both, of the first two BlackBerry devices being launched — the Z10 and Q10. What’s
unknown? As of January 30, none of the carriers were specific about availability.
 
5.    And What We Still Don’t Know: Reviews of the product are generally favorable, and some, outstanding, but what’s unknown is how this will all translate to the Street and can BlackBerry 10 save BlackBerry nee RIM?

The stock fell as much as 8% in the U.S. according to Reuters and nearly 12% in Canada according to The Canadian Press. Clearly it is too soon to understand what the future holds, since the devices are not even in the hands of the consumers yet, but many analysts and pundits are ready to dismiss BlackBerry after today.
 
On the other hand, as is the polarizing nature of BlackBerry, there are plenty of industry insiders who believe this is the positive turning point for the company.

Crawford Del Prete, @craw, Executive VP WW Products and Chief Research Officer at IDC tweeted his confidence in BlackBerry with the following comments: "BlackBerry offering some compelling new directions for smartphones" "New BlackBerry keyboard is brilliant, Innovation where others gave up." "Interesting point in time. With so many new, compelling, large screen devices, iPhone looks more and more like a stone ax."

Heins himself said, "Today is not the finish line; it’s the starting line."

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