Research In Motion isn't giving up hope that its upcoming BlackBerry 10 operating system will help it recapture some of the market share it's ceded to Apple and Google and re-establish it as serious contender in the increasingly competitive smartphone arena.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took the stage Tuesday morning at the BlackBerry Jam Americas event in San Jose, Calif., to assure RIM's developer community that BB10 will reinvigorate the smartphone maker's struggling BlackBerry brand.
"By showing the world how BlackBerry 10 unites elegant devices with a flowing user experience that is based on a future-proof mobile computing platform, and our strong alignment with the carriers, we are making believers out of partners," Heins said. "And we are also making believers out of those who have previously written BlackBerry off."
BlackBerry 10, RIM's next-generation mobile operating system, is largely considered a make-or-break move for the Waterloo, Ontario-based company. Tough competition from rivals Apple and Google has slashed RIM's global market share from 11.7 percent to the 5.2 percent in the last year, Gartner reported in August.
Apple's iOS, by comparison, accounts for 18.8 percent of the global subscriber market, while Google's Android remains the clear-cut winner with 64.1 percent.
According to Heins, BlackBerry 10 will have a leg up over competing mobile operating systems in that it offers robust security features like BlackBerry Balance, which allows personal information to be stored separately from corporate information on smartphones and tablets. Heins said BlackBerry Balance will afford IT teams grappling with the bring-your-own-device trend the ability to protect and encrypt corporate data, without denying end users the freedom to make their devices their own.
"BYOD -- bring your own device -- is a reality. CIOs have embraced it," he told the crowd. "But security, privacy, data protection, they are still pain points for CIOs. We take that pain point away from them with BlackBerry Balance."
Heins showed off other new features set to debut with BlackBerry 10, including BlackBerry Hub, a central console from which users can access and store all their notifications. Another new feature, called BlackBerry Flow, allows users to seamlessly "flow" between apps without having to constantly go back to the home screen. Instead, they can have multiple apps open at once and switch back and forth with the swipe of a finger.
Demonstrations of these new features were shown on a fully touch-enabled BlackBerry 10 prototype device, lacking the signature QWERTY keyboard that has become a staple of the BlackBerry brand. Heins said new BlackBerry 10 devices will come in both touch and keyboard-equipped designs.
BlackBerry 10 was originally slated to launch by the end of the year, but RIM unexpectedly delayed the release in June, a move partners and analysts predicted could nudge more customers toward Android or iOS. Heins did stress, however, during his keynote Tuesday that the new software is still on track to launch by its revised release date, the first quarter of 2013.
"We are just a few short months away. BlackBerry 10 is on track," he said. "Our sales forces are getting ready. Beta devices are in testing. Carrier entries will start next month."
PUBLISHED SEPT. 25, 2012