RIM rush-release prototype of the BlackBerry 10Dale Wright
BlackBerry may be struggling to compete with a new wave of Android handsets and the iPhone 4S, but their new phone suggests they might be learning some lessons from their competitors at long last.
RIM have lost around half the market share they held in 2011, and the company has lurched from crisis to crisis as revenues fall.
The BlackBerry 10 was released early to app developers in the hope that RIM can pick up some pace ahead of its launch. The company are offering app developers $10,000 (about £6,000) if their apps are ready to download when the phone is launched, and there’s a Development Kit already in circulation to make it happen.
The BlackBerry 10 prototype looks like an iPhone at first glance; it is a sleek, flat rectangle with a 4.2 inch screen. But it has no physical buttons on the front – not even a home button. The traditional BlackBerry keyboard has been replaced by a smart on-screen keyboard that predicts different possibilities for your next word as you type, allowing you to build sentences quickly. The launch video also shows the BlackBerry 10 streaming video to a TV.
BlackBerry’s new operating system should bring it into line with Android and iOS in some ways: users will be able to switch between open apps, and the camera has been improved. But the phones that will run the new software aren’t due to be released for three or four months, and by then, RIM could find themselves playing catch-up yet again.
BlackBerry were the subject of another news story this week as a flashmob PR stunt against Apple was credited to the wrong smartphone company. When people piled off a black bus and began holding up ‘Wake Up!’ signs outside the Apple Store in Sydney, everyone assumed that Samsung were behind the stunt. RIM had to issue a statement in the press to confirm it was actually their campaign.