Blackberry 10 handset to launch first in the UK


The BBC's Mark Gregory looks at Timeshift and Blackberry Balance on the new Z10 handset

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The first two handsets powered by the new Blackberry 10 operating system have been unveiled.

The Z10 is controlled via a 4.2in (10.7cm) touchscreen while the Q10 has a smaller 3.1in (7.9cm) screen and physical keyboard.

The UK will be the first to get the Z10 where it will launch on Thursday.

Its appeal could determine whether the firm - which has switched its name from Research In Motion to Blackberry - has a long term future.

The new operating system had originally been due for release last year. Canada and the UAE will get the Z10 in February and the firm said it should go on sale in the US in March.

"Two years ago we had to make a very serious decision," chief executive Thorsten Heins told a press conference in New York.

Q10 handset Blackberry said users had wanted a phone with a physical keyboard

"Adopt someone else's platform or build a whole new one from ground up for Blackberry. And we made the tough call to go it alone.

"Bringing an entirely new platform to the market and ushering this company through a really difficult transition took careful planning and we absolutely knew it was risky."

Shrinking share

According to data from IDC, Blackberry devices used to account for just over 19% of global smartphone shipments at the start of 2010 - but it suggests that figure had dropped to less than 4% by the end of last year.

"The devices are probably the firm's last attempt to make in impact in this market," Alexander Peterc, technology analyst at BNP Paribas, told the BBC.

"The firm's market share has fallen because they haven't had a product launch in a year and a half. BB7 - the previous system upgrade which was just incremental - was, let's say, a failure.

"They still have a following in enterprise where they will probably find a reliable source of revenue for the next 12 months but it's also crucial for them to generate at least a half-decent amount of traction with consumers."

Touchscreen keyboard

The new user interface allows up to eight apps to run simultaneously, four of which can appear in small windows on the same screen - something the firm describes as "true multitasking".

Michelle Fleury spoke to chief executive Thorsten Heins, and looked at the Blackberry 10's 'hub' feature

During a demonstration executives said the intention was to let users "flow" through applications using swipes and other gestures rather than copy the "in and out" nature experienced when navigating rivals' devices.

For example BB10's Hub - which brings together emails, texts and other notifications - can be accessed by swiping up and then to the right from any app. The user then needs to reverse the gesture to return to where they were.

The BBM messaging app can now make audio and video calls as well as being able to share what is on one person's screen with the other user's device.

The Z10 is not RIM's first to feature a touchscreen keyboard, but it has adopted new features to attract users more used to physical buttons.

These include a feature which learns the words and phrases the owner most often types and then uses this to suggest words which float above the keyboard and can be flicked into place.

It will also learn to anticipate and correct frequently made mistakes - such as if the user often hits the letter C when they mean to tap space.

Blackberry head of software Vivek Bhardwaj demonstrates the new BBM video feature

"The new keyboard is the jewel in the crown and Blackberry has mastered the experience," said Francisco Jeronimo, European mobile devices research manager at IDC.

"The browser, one of the weakest features on the old Blackberry devices, is now an enjoyable experience.

"This is not a new Blackberry device, this is a completely new Blackberry experience. For the first time the traditional keyboard Blackberry users will it find easier to type on a touchscreen."

The handsets also include a mix of features designed to make them appeal as a crossover business-personal machine.

Blackberry Balance sets up a "work perimeter" on the phones so that data belonging to the user's employer can be limited to approved apps, while photos and other personal information can be used across a wider range of software.

Companies are also given the option of being able to remotely wipe sensitive files.

Meanwhile the in-built Pictures app includes a facility called Timeshift designed to ensure everyone has their eyes open in group photos.

It involves the user taking several pictures in a row and then scrolling through the shots to select the best frame.

Tough competition

Blackberry said it had secured more than 70,000 additional apps for its Blackberry World app store including Skype, Angry Birds, Facebook and Whatsapp.

In addition it offers music, TV shows and movies. However, there is no official YouTube app.

Timeshare demonstration A demonstration of the Timeshift feature did not result in a totally successful shot

But some analysts suggested its efforts might have come too late to make much headway against the most popular smartphone platforms: Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

"Blackberry continues to face the twin demons of consumer-driven buying power and a chronic inability to appeal to mature market consumers," said Jan Dawson, chief telecoms analyst at Ovum.

"There is nothing in what we've seen so far of BB10 that suggests it will conquer the second of these demons, and the first is utterly out of Blackberry's control.

"We don't expect a speedy exit from the market; with no debt, 80 million subscribers and profitability in the black in at least some recent quarters, the company can continue in this vein for years. But its glory days are past, and it is only a matter of time before it reaches a natural end."

Blackberry's shares fell more than 6% following the launch.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    Is it just me, or were the images from London landing on the recieving iPh -- sorry Blackberry before they were sent (beating the satellite link).

    Very non-plussed. I'm sick and tired of these stand-up corporate onan-fests. They should have dies with Steve.

  • rate this

    Comment number 103.

    Who gives a crap. Only nerds without a meaningfull life can get hormonally excited over a yet the umpteenth version of an overgrown cell phone. Read a book open your mind quit screwing around all day with an electronic toy.

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    blackberry better, blueberry better, iphone better, nokia better.....

    heard it all before, its all better until the next model, makes the user so much happier to spend the money? good...

    it it future proof? can anyone use it for a long time before its no longer better? ...I thought so.

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    I have used various BlackBerrys (ies?) for years. They have all been perfectly reliable and have done the job well. They got replaced because of a company upgrade policy. I don't play games on it. It carries my work and personal email, and it works fine as a phone. The new ones have a choice of keyboard, and the new screens are bigger. Why would I bother with an overpriced iPhone?

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    It's 'BlackBerry', for heaven's sake. At least get the name right!

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    If you've a blackberry do you know your onions?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    Blackberry was always better as a business device its integration with MS exchange made it the corporate choice unlike Apple and others and the fact that they had their own network which was heavily secured & encrypted meant it offered business worldwide a very secure network which would cost billions to replace today. Its those aspects BB need to concentrate on not producing toys.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    BlackBerry have left it too late. I don't think there is room on the top table for four systems and Windows 8 is making great strides into 3rd place with the best product out there.

    Windows 8 mobile makes IOS, Android and BB look dated.

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    93, Druhinderjit, can you please just forward me that mail from your business e-mail system, that you recievd 3 years ago, and is stored in your archived e-mail folder storage system please.

    No,, oh dear, why not?

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    I'll wait a few months before thinking about getting one just to let the bugs get sorted.

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.


  • rate this

    Comment number 93.

    People always bang on about "so great for email",why? My iPhone gets email too and yes, I can send them too. What's the big deal about blackberry's and emails? Maybe 10yrs ago it might have been impressive, in this day and age, sadly it's not. If you want a ridiculous little keyboard and enjoy squinting at very small screenshot by all means, get one!

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    71. MBC01975

    Not sure the apps are secure, certainly wouldn't run my businees e-mail over them, they are legal documents after all.

    Besides i will always carry two devices, my personal one and the work BB. I will never let them cross over, besides its cheaper to run my own phone rather than pay the tax on private use on a work device.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    The point is coming soon where these IT hardware companies will simply have nothing new to offer. At which point their shares will fall (as per Apple) and panic will grip investors. I pity the poor blighters whose job it is to sell this stuff on the high street. After the initail burst from adicted geeks this balloon will soon go flat.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    I like the "peek" function but the interface looks unnecessarily awkward at times....and the "gesture" unlock is a gimmick. You are very very stupid if you don't lock down your phone with a pin, password or other eg Android's grid unlock.

    And the reporter's tedious "looks like Apple remarks are very old criticisms. Samsung could easily claim that Apple copied their tv designs from Feb 2007.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    Personally I like my Blackberry, it does what I want, its been very easy to use and reliable, and I didn't have to pay a hefty premium because of the name. I especially like the security features RIM incorporates, I'd be very reluctant to use a Windows based phone for e-mail. I may be a niche market though since I don't feel compelled to have the latest bells and whistles or "cool" brand.

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    Is it really necessary to have such fruity sounding phones?

    why can't we have a "Steak Pie Z10" or the "Sausage roll iPhone"?

    Apple and Blackberry indeed! It's political correctness gone mad!

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The second 'B' of BlackBerry should be capitalised. Poor effort BbC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Blackberries are now well known for their incredibly poor build quality. The only reason they are still in the market is because Microsoft keep messing around with their operating system to compete with Android. If Windows Phone was built around business....goodbye crapberry

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Not really going to rescue RIM.

    It's twice the price of a Nexus4, and much lower specs, smaller battery capacity, and a barrent app-store.

    It's a Android/iOS two horse race, there is no room for the Betamax and Laserdisc from Microsoft and RIM, regardless of how much marketing money and gift giving...


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