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The Lowdown: What BlackBerry Announced At BlackBerry 10 Launch


Handset maker BlackBerry (formerly RIM) officially launched the QNX-based BlackBerry 10 operating system and released a couple of BlackBerry 10 handsets, at the event held in New York on January 30. Here is a quick lowdown on all the announcements made by the company:

BlackBerry 10 OS

BlackBerry announced the next version of its operating system called the BlackBerry 10 operating system, which introduces features like BlackBerry Hub, Balance, Flow, the new BBM, BB10 Browser, BB Remember, BB safeguard, and BB world.

The BlackBerry Hub, is a single place to manage all your conversations whether personal or work email, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications. The most interesting feature we found was the ability to access BlackBerry Hub from anywhere, irrespective of what the user doing on the phone.

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The BlackBerry Flow enables one to execute a task without having to the leave the app. For example, you can tap on an attendee listed for a meeting to see their latest tweet or LinkedIn profile. Or tap the thumbnail of a picture you just took to launch the Picture editor and quickly apply a transformation or filter, then instantly share it with your contacts.

  

The new BBM in the BB10 includes voice calling and video chat. It also includes the ability to share your screen with another BB10 contact, something like teamviewer. Previously, BlackBerry had launched BBM 7.0 for their older generation phones with the ability to conduct a voice call over WiFi. It’s not clear whether older generation BB would receive the new BBM functionality.

The USP of BlackBerry devices over the years has been its image of a business device, however, with organizations increasingly supporting BYOD (bring your own device) at work, many users have intentionally made a shift away from BlackBerry. With Balance, the company is looking to brings a balance between work and personal content for people, by allowing users to separate and secure work applications and data from personal content on BlackBerry devices. Organizations can decide to restrict users on their work profile on their handsets, however, users can still access unrestricted data on their personal profile.

BB10 also features a new BB10 browser with HTML5 support, and includes reader mode, tabs, private browsing. Its camera includes Time Shift that allows one to capture a group of shot, and story maker that lets one brings collection of photos and videos together. Other features in BlackBerry 10 include BlackBerry Remember, which combines memos, tasks, evernotes, websites, emails, photos, documents, and other files, To-Do list in a single place and Safeguard technology which secures the device.

BlackBerry 10 Apps

BlackBerry also announced that the BlackBerry World now includes 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps including apps such as Skype, Angry Birds, Disney apps, WhatsApp, among others. BlackBerry 10 devices will come with pre-installed apps like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Cisco has extended its WebEx technology to BB10 with WebEx meetings that allows users to join, start, view content, and stay connected from within the phone. Disney’s ‘Where’s My Water?’ and ‘Where’s My Perry?’ games are also available on the platform.

However, its worth noting that it still lacks popular consumer apps such as Instagram, FlipBoard, Google Maps, YouTube, among others. According to The Verge, BlackBerry is however currently  ”in talks” with both Instagram and Netflix to launch their respective BlackBerry 10 apps. Interestingly, BlackBerry had previously stated that Android apps can easily ported to the BlackBerry 10 platform, however the company didn’t offer any additional information regarding this yesterday.

BlackBerry World: Earlier in the week, BlackBerry had rebranded its BlackBerry apps storefront as BlackBerry World to offer DRM-free music, TV shows, movies, and apps. The company claimed to partnered with international music labels including 4AD Records, Domino Recording Company, finetunes, Matador Records, [PIAS] Entertainment Group, Rough Trade Records, Sony Music Entertainment, The Orchard, Universal Music Group, Warner Music Group, XL Recordings and Zebralution and offer its music catalog in 18 countries including India. However, its currently not clear if BlackBerry has partnered with any Indian music labels for this service.

BlackBerry had also partnered with several studios like the 20th Century Fox, Entertainment One (eOne), Lionsgate, MGM, National Film Board of Canada, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment (US), Starz Digital Media, STUDIOCANAL and The Walt Disney Studios among others to offer a video download and rental section but it was limited to only the United States, United Kingdom and Canada.

Handsets:  Along with BlackBerry 10 launch, BlackBerry launched two new BlackBerry handsets, Z10 and Q10, which runs on BlackBerry 10 operating system. The BlackBerry Z10 is a 4.2 inch full touch screen device, while the BlackBerry Q10 comes with the touch support as well as with the traditional BlackBerry portrait QWERTY keyboard. The Z10 featured a 1,800 mAh battery, while the BlackBerry Q10 boasts slightly higher battery capacity at 2,100 mAh.

 

Both the handsets featured 1.5 GHz dual core processors with 2GB of RAM, 16GB of internal storage, and an expandable memory card slot. They include a micro HDMI out port for presentations, and NFC (near field communications) to support mobile payments, a 3.5mm audio jack and a mini USB port. Interestingly both the phones have a removable battery, a privilege that not many high end smartphones offer these days. The BB Z10 comes in White and Black Color, while the Q10 comes in a single black color.

While the devices will be made available in the US, Canada and the UK by March, BlackBerry has announced that the devices will be made available in the rest of the world by April, which includes India. Pricing of the devices has not been disclosed yet. It’s quite surprising that BlackBerry has sidetracked Asia for its device launch, which remains their one of the most healthiest market.

Rebranding : RIM announced that it will now operate around the world under the name BlackBerry, effective immediately. As part of the move, the company will now trade as “BB” on the Toronto Stock Exchange and “BBRY” on the NASDAQ, from February 4, 2013. Currently, the company trades in the NASDAQ as “RIMM”. At the time of writing this article, the company’s official website RIM.com, redirects to BlackBerry.com.

We believe the rebranding makes sense as the company promoted its software and hardware products under the brand name “BlackBerry”. Why did it take them so long to re-brand to BlackBerry?

Accessories: Along with the handsets, BlackBerry also launched couple of accessories, including a Battery Charger Bundle for the BlackBerry Z10 battery LS1 and a Bluetooth mini stereo speaker/speakerphone, as indicated by a TechCrunch report. The external charger can be integrated with the micro USB cable that slides into the case when not in use. The LS1 is priced at $49.99 while the Bluetooth mini stereo speaker/speakerphone is priced at $79.99.