There was a time when owning a smartphone meant you owned a BlackBerry. For those with high-speed jobs who needed to stay connected on the go, owning a BlackBerry meant owning the best in production on the go. After Apple and Google rode into town and began dominating the market with iPhones and Androids, BlackBerries seemingly went the way of the dodo – poof, they were extinct. Things were so bad for the BlackBerry brand, in fact, that when Marissa Mayer took over as CEO of Yahoo! and told her employees that each would get a smartphone, they only had two options: Android or iPhone.
But Research in Motion (RIM) refused to give up, and on Wednesday re-vitalized the BlackBerry brand with the launch of BlackBerry 10. Actually, that sentence isn’t even accurate anymore, as one of the first things that RIM did was change its name to BlackBerry. Goodbye, confusion; hello, simplicity.
Tell Me About the Phones!
Following its re-branding, BlackBerry launched two new smartphones: the Q10 and Z10.
The Q10 is everything you’ve come to know and love about BlackBerry over the years, packaged with a sleek new OS for 2013. It’s keyboard-equipped, which means it stays true to the essence of what BlackBerry has been throughout the years. But it also features a 3.1” touchscreen, helping you maximize productivity. It also features LTE.
BlackBerry’s Z10 is the company’s first full-touch BlackBerry 10 device. Rocking a 4.2” touchscreen with a 1,280 x 768 display, the phone will also feature LTE and will be available for $199 when it hits store shelves.
Love accessories? BlackBerry showed some of those off, too. In addition to a few fancy cases and shells, the BlackBerry Mini Stereo Speaker was also displayed, which is a tiny speaker phone that has Bluetooth and has a unique "U" shape that lets you to clip it on to a seatbelt or a lapel. It’s yours for $99.
Hardware, Schmardware… Where Are the Apps?
Hardware is all fine and good, but software is the area that BlackBerry can really re-vitalize its brand. One of the first things BlackBerry showed off at its announcement on Wednesday was the inclusion of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Foursquare apps, all of which are seamlessly integrated into the OS through the BB Hub.
Those four social media apps are just a small number of the estimated 70,000 apps that are projected to be available when BlackBerry 10 is launched to the public. That’s a very solid start. Also spotted? Skype (and Jetpack Joyride, for when you’re tired of being productive).
(For a total list of apps spotted at the announcement, check out this Engadget page.)
BlackBerry 10 Perks
The new OS is BlackBerry 10. One of the things many BlackBerry owners loved in the past was BBM: BlackBerry Messaging. In the years since RIM/BlackBerry held a market share, Apple has done a lot with iMessage to make people forget all about BBM.
But early reports suggest that BlackBerry has overhauled BBM. Called “crazy slick,” it’s said to make people forget all about iMessage. The new BBM not only has reliable messaging, but also free calls over Wi-Fi, beautiful video chat and even a screen-sharing feature that lets you share whatever's on your mobile desktop with someone halfway around the world.
So When Can I Get My Hands On It?
Depending on where you live, a new BlackBerry phone can be yours as soon as this week. If you live in the UK and Canada, the phone can be yours in just a few days. US customers? Sorry, but you’ll have to wait until mid-March.