RIM's BlackBerry 10 Smartphone To Launch in January
Research in Motion (RIM), the struggling manufacturer of the BlackBerry smartphone, has announced the launch date of the mobile device it hopes can return it to relevance -- the BlackBerry 10. Toward that end, it's also releasing a series of SDKs for its developer community.
The BlackBerry 10 will be revealed to the world on Jan. 30, 2013. RIM did not divulge in its release when the actual devices will go on sale, however. "Details on the smartphones and their availability will be announced at the event," the release states. At the event, RIM will also show off the first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones.
RIM emphasized three features of BlackBerry 10 it believes will separate the phone from the competition. First is BlackBerry Flow and BlackBerry Hub. The Flow is described as a UI that has transparent navigation across open apps and the Hub, which is the central repository for messages, notifications, feeds, and calendar events. In theory, the Hub sounds similar to hubs in Windows Phone 8, such as the People Hub that integrates social networks.
The BlackBerry keyboard is promoted as a feature that learns a user's typing patterns and habits, and adapts to his or her style to make typing faster. One thing missing from the description was information about whether or not the BlackBerry 10 keyboard will be onscreen only, or include a physical keyboard, which was perhaps the defining aspect of previous BlackBerrys.
The final feature mentioned was BlackBerry Balance, which separates personal usage and data from business usage. The business profile is encrypted for security. RIM says the profiles can be switched with a simple gesture.
Since apps are the lifeblood of any smartphone platform, RIM is working to get developers up to speed. A BlackBerry 10 SDK update is coming on Thursday, Nov. 29. The update includes bug fixes and a new version of BlackBerry WebWorks HTML5 tools, which RIM says improves performance of HTML5 apps, providing a more native-like experience.
Following that update is the gold BlackBerry 10 SDK on Dec. 11. "When the Gold SDK is released on December 11th, you can complete your final testing and tweaking and submit your app knowing it will run on the commercial release of BlackBerry 10 smartphone OS," RIM says.
The other important deadline looming for BlackBerry developers is Jan. 21, as that's the final day to submit apps to the BlackBerry App World store to be eligible for the $10,000 app guarantee. Basically, the guarantee says that if certain conditions are met, RIM guarantees developers will make a minimum of $10,000 in an app's first year of life.
RIM is counting on the BlackBerry 10 to revive the company's fortunes. Facing intense competition from the market leaders, Android and iPhone, and a new entry from Microsoft in Windows Phone 8, the once-dominant player has suffered job cuts and plunging revenues as it was slow to embrace the smartphone era. The reception of the BlackBerry 10 is likely to define the prospects for RIM's very existence.
Keith Ward is the editor in chief of Visual Studio Magazine.