Live blog: RIM hopes for a revival with BlackBerry 10

Blackberry 10, RIM

Research in Motion executives delivered what was probably the most important product presentation in the company’s history Wednesday. After years of struggling in the wake of Apple’s iPhone launch to come up with an answer to a product that changed the world, RIM is finally ready to unveil its BlackBerry 10 handsets, the first RIM devices to use a modernized mobile operating system.

I described the morning’s events as they unfolded here. I’ll have more coverage soon, but for a preview, check out my story earlier this week, “After a rise and fall, BlackBerry 10 is RIM’s last, best comeback attempt.” And for the early peanut-gallery reaction to RIM’s (now known only as BlackBerry) announcements, check out this story.

These were the highlights:

  • Research in Motion will now be known simply as BlackBerry, according to CEO Thorsten Heins.
  • Two BlackBerry 10 handsets were shown off: the touchscreen Z10 and the QWERTY keyboard Q10
  • Some interesting features such as BlackBerry Hub, Story Maker, and others were shown off. 70,000 apps will be available.
  • The Wall Street Journal is reporting that the phones won’t be available until mid-March in the U.S. They’ll be available in other countries much sooner, with the U.K. able to purchase the devices tomorrow.
Kevin C. Tofel 8:23:35 am

And that’s a wrap for here. Now I’m off for some hands-on time. Stay tuned for first impressions as soon as I have them and then the full review!

Kevin C. Tofel 8:22:55 am

I liked what I saw and heard, but mostly I see it as keeping BB in the game, not raising the bar. Cynical? Maybe. Perhaps I’ll change my mind after seeing the apps and using the platform.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:22:03 am

So we’re wrapping up here. My general thought: I have to spend time with the platform and devices. Looks like we all will: everyone is taking a Z10 home today. Note: I’ll have to give mine back after the review period per our editorial policy.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:17:21 am

Now watching a video on how BB10 enables creativity for artists, movie makers, writers, etc…

Kevin C. Tofel 8:15:51 am

Keys says she’ll work with app devs, designers, carriers and more to explore the BB10 opportunities. Angry Birds: Alicia Keys Edition coming in 2013?

Tom Krazit 8:15:48 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:14:22 am

Keys is speaking better without following the teleprompter than Heins does. Just saying.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:13:33 am

Keys says she “broke up with BB for something with more bling.” BB10 has more bling now, apparently.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:12:26 am

Does every phone come with her music catalog for free? No, not likely.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:11:59 am

“Today is not just about unveiling a new product.” says Heins. BB is creating a global creative director position. That person is: Alicia Keys.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:09:31 am

I would have liked to see US availability sooner. But it may be smart to build momentum where BB has a larger user base. Better numbers to tout later.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:08:56 am

UK gets the Z10 tomorrow.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:08:44 am

Z10 availability expected in March in US. February 5 in Canada. Pricing will vary by partner: retail for $149 on 3 year contract in Canada.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:08:09 am

Heins is back on stage. By end of Feb, 110 carriers will have tested the phones. AT&T, Verizon, Sprint and T-Mobile will be announcing pre-registration today.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:07:32 am

So the app story has been told, but I really need to see the catalog to determine if I’m as excited as BB is. Windows Phone has a larger catalog but is still missing a few core apps, so 70,000 apps means little at this point. Good start, but we’ll see how devs feel.

Kevin C. Tofel 8:05:24 am

Facebook, Foursquare, Twitter, Oovoo here. Jetpack Joyride too. Don’t see any streaming bits (Netflix) but it’s early yet. Box mentioned but didn’t see Dropbox.

Tom Krazit 8:02:11 am

Kevin C. Tofel 8:01:40 am

Skype, Amazon Kindle, What’s App, SAP, Angry Birds all committed to BB10. “Over 1,000 top apps committed.”

Kevin C. Tofel 8:00:43 am

Over 70,000 applications available for BB10 today. I want to see if the “core” apps are there though. That’s what switchers will look at.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:59:10 am

Martyn Mallik from BB up next to talk apps and content.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:58:45 am

OK, demo time appears over. Now Heins is discussing partner relationships. Touting the collection of music, movies and TV shows; all major studios participating. That’s important.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:56:39 am

Nice. Story Maker couldn’t be any easier to use and the output is impressive without any effort on the user’s part.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:55:57 am

Story Maker app is next. Looks like a movie maker where you choose media, add music, titles, credits and bam: you get a movie.

Tom Krazit 7:54:55 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:54:53 am

Definitely a highlight of the “flow”; you’re not jumping in and out of a home screen much, if at all.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:54:16 am

Native photo editor uses gestures to add effects and styles. Looks very easy to edit.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:53:35 am

TimeShift is being shown to fix Thorsten’s funny face; camera takes multiple pics and you can choose the best “part” of a photo for the final image. Focus looked fast.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:52:36 am

Time for a BB10 Camera demo.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:51:56 am

This is actually integrated with Evernote (I’m such a good guesser!) as well as Outlook notes and mails. Looks handy.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:50:55 am

BlackBerry Remember is another new feature. Getting a look at it on the Q10. Sharing a vacation link to Remember with audio note, images, video. It’s like Evernote to a large degree.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:48:27 am

New feature: BBM Screen Share over video. Limited use here on a small screen but handy, I think. Would be more useful on say…. a tablet?

Kevin C. Tofel 7:46:52 am

Next up: BBM. Here comes the first public BBM video call to the UK launch event.

Tom Krazit 7:46:05 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:45:58 am

Data between the two profiles in Balance is encrypted and not available to each other from what I can tell. No need for folks to carry a BB for work and a [insert other phone here] for personal use.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:44:13 am

Next up for the demo: BlackBerry Balance, a way to separate work and personal. Done with a single gesture. Curious to see the settings. Wallpaper and apps change between the two. App World switches to a Work App Catalog. (No Angry Birds in the work one)

Kevin C. Tofel 7:42:49 am

Clearly the team spent a ton of time refining the keyboard to bring the “BB keyboard experience” to software in BB10.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:42:09 am

Keyboard is multi-lingual too. Just demoed different sentences in English, French and German. No support for Pig Latin.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:41:24 am

Swipe to the left to delete a word. Nice. Word prediction appears above the starting letter of a word.

Tom Krazit 7:41:21 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:40:39 am

Now getting a look at the software keyboard. Very simple looking and emulates the old BB experience. Word prediction is quite impressive. Just typed a 7 word sentence by swiping 7 letters. One thumb used.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:38:46 am

Similar to Windows Phone People Hub you can see tweets and FB posts for your contacts, as well as upcoming events with a person.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:38:04 am

BB10 smartly groups people, events and details of both; a very seamless experience.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:37:19 am

The Hub is showing calendar events, BBM, email, and tweets. Like a unified inbox on steroids.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:36:08 am

All of these demos are being done one-handed, by the way. Typing as well. Nice to see on a larger screened device. Gestures from off-screen make this work.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:35:31 am

Flow is not about jumping in and out of apps; more of a movement between content. I like the concept. Of course, I liked webOS too…. still, so far, so good.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:34:36 am

Looking at a YouTube video now and the LED notification lights up. A simple swipe gesture lets you peek at other apps/notifications while the video keeps playing. The Z10 looks very responsive.

Tom Krazit 7:34:22 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:33:21 am

BlackBerry Hub: combines Twitter, email, messages and hub. Getting a demo of BlackBerry Flow. Multiple apps (like cards from the Palm webOS) running in real time. Easy to tap and switch.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:32:12 am

Demo time!

Kevin C. Tofel 7:31:49 am

Physical keyboard on the Q10 looks solid but I’ll have to get some hands on for sure. 3.1″ touchscreen with high pixel density.

Tom Krazit 7:30:52 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:30:22 am

Looks like a countered edge cover on the back. Heins is talking about social communication integration now.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:29:38 am

4.2″ screen, 356 ppi for the Z10.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:28:59 am

As expected: 2 new handsets. Z10 touchscreen and Q10 QWERTY.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:28:25 am

And here comes the big reveal for BB10….

Tom Krazit 7:27:22 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:27:04 am

Smart move to change the branding. Out with the old, in with the new. “Re-designed, re-engineered, re-invented” is the message.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:26:07 am

BBRY for you NASDAQ folks.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:25:47 am

RIM now becomes BlackBerry, says Heins. One brand. One promise.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:25:15 am

This is definitely more of a humbled RIM so far. And that’s a good thing. This market moves too fast to take success for granted.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:24:14 am

Heins is thanking folks for the new QNX software integration, carrier relationships and such. This is going from New Year’s Day to an awards ceremony. C’mon Thorsten, let’s see BB10!

Tom Krazit 7:23:36 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:22:50 am

Now hyping up security, communications, and what you’d expect from a BB device. I still want to know: what else is there that will make people switch?

Kevin C. Tofel 7:21:37 am

Buzzword bingo players: Heins just dropped the Internet of Things buzz phrase, saying you will be connected to your “personal Internet of Things.”

Kevin C. Tofel 7:20:29 am

Who is BB10 for? Those who are hyper-connected socially and don’t want to use a home button to multi-task. (How do you like them Apple’s?)

Kevin C. Tofel 7:19:16 am

“Today is not the finishing line; it’s the starting line.”

Kevin C. Tofel 7:18:50 am

He’s now crediting the employees for their commitment and creativity. Good message because it’s been a rough ride for these folks.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:17:54 am

Heins talking about transformation for RIM. Very challenging year for him but exhilarating at the same time. “Innovation is at the heart of RIM.”

Tom Krazit 7:17:16 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:16:48 am

For the record: He is not wearing a pony-tail.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:16:15 am

Here comes CEO, President, Thorsten Heins to the stage!

Kevin C. Tofel 7:15:34 am

And now I’m glad I got a haircut earlier this week.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:15:19 am

They’re now calling CrackBerry Kevin up to stage. He said last year he wouldn’t cut his hair since BB10 launched. He’s got a pony-tail and going to cut it now. Whoa.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:13:08 am

So none of this event has yet taken place on stage. It’s actually from the middle of the room (behind me) and we see it on the big screen on stage. Interesting and explains the empty stage space now.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:12:20 am

Alec is “totally stoked!” In speaking to him personally at our Mobilize event, I know he’s put all of his effort into this. He just said this will be the biggest app catalog for any first-gen device/platform.

Tom Krazit 7:11:20 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:11:13 am

Alec Saunders, VP of developer relations is chatting it up now. He says his team traveled 2.5 million miles courting developers. 44 cities. Good because apps are just as important (if not more so) than hardware and software.

Tom Krazit 7:09:53 am

Kevin C. Tofel 7:09:49 am

This is a long video. I think we get it. ;) OK. Now it’s over.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:08:25 am

Another video: hearing what BB employees, carriers and partners think of BB10. It’s all good! (Obviously)

Kevin C. Tofel 7:06:52 am

Now we’re checking in to the other BB10 events: London, Dubai, Toronto, Paris, Johannesburg. It’s like New Years Day!

Kevin C. Tofel 7:05:43 am

Looks like we’re about to get going now. Short video of BB10 features playing; nothing new…. yet.

Kevin C. Tofel 7:03:17 am

Looks like we’re a few minutes late getting started here. Music still playing.

Kevin C. Tofel 6:59:29 am

RIM just posted a Twitter poll on the big screen here: what people think of the new BB10 after trying it. Since it’s mostly BB employees that have used it, I’d guess most would give it 5 stars, no? (78 percent did)

Kevin C. Tofel 6:57:42 am

Before we start the event, I’m thinking of my main question about RIM’s story. I expect current BB users to be happy after today, but: What will I hear that gives people reason to switch to BB so RIM grows market share.

Kevin C. Tofel 6:55:28 am

Still listening to music and waiting for people to take seats. According to Shazam, we’re hearing “Kites” by Geographer. RIM hopes to fly higher after today?

Kevin C. Tofel 6:50:01 am

Interesting: Mike Lazaridis just walked past and sat in the front row. Must be a season ticket holder still.

Kevin C. Tofel 6:48:26 am

Very big stage that’s basically empty. No table, podium or hidden devices anywhere. Will this be a more personal style event?

Kevin C. Tofel 6:47:08 am

And, after a shuttle bus ride (and some much needed coffee!) we’re seated at the BB 10 event. Props to BlackBerry as they have table seating, power cords and ethernet / WiFi readily available. You guys may not care but it makes my job much easier! I’d estimate a thousand people here at the event.

Tom Krazit 6:44:25 am

Tom Krazit 6:44:06 am

Kevin’s getting settled in New York, and we’ll start updating shortly! Here’s the scene:

Comments have been disabled for this post