Wednesday, March 12, 2014
By PETER SVENSSON and ROB GILLIES, The Associated Press
(Continued from page 1)
Thorsten Heins, CEO of Research in Motion, introduces the BlackBerry 10 in New York on Wednesday. The company is promising a speedy browser, a superb typing experience and the ability to keep work and personal identities separate on the same smartphone.
The Associated Press
BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis said the new phones' tardy arrival in the U.S. threatens to cause even more BlackBerry users to defect. By the time the Z10 goes on sale in the U.S., Gillis suspects many people will be waiting to see what Google plans to unveil in mid-May at an annual conference that usually includes new gadgets and an Android software update. Speculation of a new iPhone also may be building by then.
Wednesday's event flopped on Wall Street. RIM's stock fell $1.88 to $13.78. The stock has more than doubled from its nine-year low of $6.22 in September, but is still nearly 90 percent below its peak of $147 reached in 2008, when the iPhone was still a novelty trying to break into the mainstream.
Despite their limited availability until March, the new BlackBerrys will be hailed in a commercial Sunday during CBS's telecast of the Super Bowl. RIM declined to say how much it is paying, but some 30-second spots during the game have been sold for as much as $4 million. RIM said the spot is designed to signal to U.S. customers that the BlackBerry is back.
RIM also decided to make a touch-only version first, despite its strength with physical keyboards, in hopes of luring new customers.
"The idea that we are launching BlackBerry 10 just to upgrade the existing physical keyboard customer base is wrong," Boulben said in an interview. "The new platform we are introducing will have much wider appeal on the market. It's for all the people looking for the next generation in smartphone experience."
But RIM won't abandon physical keyboards. The Q10 will have a square screen and sport a 35-key physical keyboard with a back light, with language-specific arrangements such as QWERTY and AZERTY depending on the market. It's meant to cater to people who still prefer that over a touch screen.
The touch-screen keyboard itself promises such improvements as learning a user's writing style and suggesting words and phrases to complete, going beyond typo corrections offered by rivals.
The new BlackBerrys also are supposed to run faster and enable people to separate their professional and personal lives with a feature called Balance. They also promise to let people easily switch between multiple applications by swiping on the screen. The new BlackBerrys won't have a home button, which is fundamental to the iPhone.
"Gone are the days of going back and forth and in and out between applications," said Andrew MacLeod, RIM's managing director for Canada. "It's cumbersome, it's inefficient and it's slow."
The new software and BlackBerrys were supposed to be released a year ago, only to be delayed while Apple and Android device makers won more zealous converts to their products. In the meantime, Microsoft Corp. rolled out a new Windows operating system for smartphones, confronting RIM with another technology powerhouse to battle.
The delays in developing the new BlackBerrys helped wipe out $70 billion in shareholder wealth and 5,000 jobs.
"It is the most challenging year of my career," said Heins, whose anniversary leading the company occurred last week. "It is also the most exhilarating and exciting one."