Blackberry change: RIM changes name to BlackBerry, unveils 2 phones
NEW YORK (AP) - After lengthy delays, Research In Motion Ltd. unveiled its first two phones with the new BlackBerry 10 system. The Q10 will have a physical keyboard, while the Z10 has only a touch-screen keyboard. RIM also announced a company name change to BlackBerry to maintain a single brand. It will have the ticker symbol "BBRY" on the Nasdaq Stock Market.
RIM redesigned the system to embrace the multimedia, apps and touch-screen experience prevalent today. The question is whether there's time for the once-pioneering BlackBerry to catch up to Apple's trend-setting iPhone and devices running Google's Android system.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins hosted the main event in New York. Video of his appearance was shown at other RIM events in Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, New Delhi and Jakarta, Indonesia.
RIM initially said BlackBerry 10 would come by early 2012, but then the company changed that to late 2012. A few months later, that date was pushed further, to early 2013, missing the lucrative holiday season. The holdup helped wipe out more than $70 billion in shareholder wealth and 5,000 jobs.
RIM had shown off prototypes and previews before. Wednesday's event was the first time RIM showed off a complete product, with details on prices and availability expected.
Most analysts consider a BlackBerry 10 success to be crucial for the company's long-term viability.
RIM is promising a speedier device, a superb typing experience and the ability to keep work and personal identities separate on the same phone. Previews of the BlackBerry 10 software have gotten favorable reviews on blogs. Financial analysts are starting to see some slight room for a comeback. With smartphone sales growing, the BlackBerry 10 can succeed without iPhone and Android users switching.
Regardless of BlackBerry 10's advances, though, the new system will face a key shortcoming: It won't have as many apps written by outside companies and individuals as the iPhone and Android.
Here's a running account of the BlackBerry 10 event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EST. Besides Heins, presenters include Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations, and Martyn Mallick, vice president of global alliances.
Event wraps up. RIM says it's giving all audience members at Z10 to go.
RIM's stock remains down - about 5.3 percent, at $14.83. It had traded as low as $14.41 earlier. Before the event, it was as high as $16.62.
RIM brings out singer Alicia Keys, who says she had been in a "long-term relationship" with the BlackBerry, but saw more attractive smartphones at the gym. She says that with the new phone, with new features, "we're exclusively dating again."
Heins says the Z10 - which he's pronouncing "zed-10" - will be out in the U.K. on Thursday, in Canada on Feb. 5 and in the U.S. in March. Prices will vary by carrier, but they will be around $150 with a three-year service contract in Canada. Testing with U.S. carriers is continuing.
He didn't say when the Q10, with the physical keyboard, will be out or for how much.
Mallick talks about some of the apps that are coming to the BlackBerry, including Skype video calling, Kindle e-reader and the "Angry Birds" game. It's also getting social media apps such as Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. He says RIM made a push to get the most heavily used apps on the BlackBerry 10.
More than 70,000 apps will be available. That includes developed for RIM's PlayBook tablet, first released in 2011. Even so, that's just a tenth of what the iPhone and Android offer. Popular service such as Instagram and Netflix won't have apps on BlackBerry 10.
RIM demonstrates the Balance, which allows two personas on the same device. Businesses can keep their data secure without forcing employees to get a second device for personal use. It's a previously announced feature.
RIM also unveils the ability to share your entire screen with other users using a feature called BBM Screen Share.
RIM's stock drops further to $14.68, down 6.3 percent.
On stage, executives demonstrate the BlackBerry Hub. You can send a Twitter message straight from it, and it integrates LinkedIn. It also integrates your contacts.
The BlackBerry will emphasize typing with one thumb, with gestures and the ability to delete with a thumb swipe anywhere. It will also recognize if you switch languages in the middle of the email, which could be popular in India and other markets where the BlackBerry is still strong.
RIM's stock is down 39 cents, or 2.5 percent, at $15.27. It had been up more than 3 percent before the event, with a high for the day of $16.62.
The stock has traded in the range of $6.22 to $18.32 in the past 52 weeks. It's up 37 percent so far this year, compared with 5.5 percent for the S&P 500 index.
The Q10 has a squarish screen measuring 3.1 inches diagonally. The Z10 will have a 4.2-inch screen for a cinematic experience. Heins says the back is textured so that it will be comfortable to hold.
Heins introduces two new phones - the Z10 and the Q10. The Q10 has a physical keyboard, a feature that has kept BlackBerry users loyal over the years. The Z10 will have only a touch-screen keyboard.
Heins says, "''we know there is a lot of physical keyboard lovers out there."
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