(NEW YORK) — After years of Apple and Google grabbing its smartphone market share, BlackBerry on Wednesday launched a version of its phones that it hopes will bring it back.
At an event in New York City, BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, not only announced the much-delayed BlackBerry 10, the new phone software the company has been working on for the past two years, but that RIM would now officially be called BlackBerry.
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“We have been on a journey of transformation, to transform our business and our brand, but also one that will transform mobile communications to true mobile computing,” Heins said on stage. “Saying we have reinvented this company is simply not enough. Today is a new day in the history of BlackBerry.”
BlackBerry 10 is a completely new version of the BlackBerry software; it doesn’t share a line of code with the previous version called BlackBerry 7 and was built completely for the touchscreen. While the operating system is similar to that of the iPhone or Android, as it is built around pages of apps, BlackBerry says the other platforms are now outdated and that the BlackBerry 10 will provide “differentiating” features.
“It’s a change in smartphone experience — the dominant paradigm, introduced six years ago, was great and revolutionary at the time,” BlackBerry’s Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben told ABC News in an interview. “But six years is a long time for a technology cycle, with a new user experience with a clear focus we have the opportunity to take market share back.”
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Its BlackBerry Z10 phone doesn’t have a physical keyboard, but it has a software keyboard. The software keyboard predicts words as you are typing, and you can swipe words into the keyboard. There is also the Hub, which brings in all your messages — email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — into a universal inbox. You can swipe up and left to get to the Hub from any screen. In fact, the entire operating system is built around swiping; there’s no back button or physical home button.
BlackBerry also discussed a feature called BlackBerry Balance, which allows you to create different areas of the phone for work and your personal life. Additionally, its new BlackBerry Messenger will have voice and video chatting functionality, allowing users a way around using their minutes.
BlackBerry 10 will first launch on the BlackBerry Z10 smartphone. The phone has a 4.2-inch screen, a dual-core processor, 2GB of RAM and an 8-megapixel camera on the back and a 2-megapixel camera on the front for video chatting.
The BlackBerry Z10 will be available in Canada on Feb. 5 and in the U.K. early next month. In the U.S. it will be available in March. AT&T and Verizon have said they will carry one of the first phones with BlackBerry 10. The Z10 will be sold for a suggested retail price of $199 with a two-year contract; an unlocked version will be sold for $599.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Madison Park, Keith Allen and Andreas Preuss, CNN