RIM unveils Blackberry 10 prototype

RIM unveils Blackberry 10 prototype

RIM unveils Blackberry 10 prototype

0 comments 📅23 September 2014, 02:45

RIM unveils Blackberry 10 prototype

RIM has taken the unusual step of handing out thousands of ‘stripped down’ prototype Blackberry 10 devices to developers in Florida this week, getting devs on board with the platform reboot ahead of its launch later this year. Some see this as the Canadian firm’s last roll of the dice, but will it pay off?

Around 2000 attendees were given Blackberry 10 Dev Alpha handsets, not intended for consumer release, but for developers to test drive their Blackberry 10 apps. RIM was at pains to point out that these were prototype devices, and didn’t represent the final product or handset hardware that it’s hoped will be available to consumers later this year.

It’s been a tough few months for the Canadian firm that once dominated the smartphone world, industry analysts IDC noted that the firm’s Q1 market share had dropped by half to around 6.7%. Many will see the impending release of BB 10 as the firm’s last chance to retain its place at the top industry table alongside the like of Apple and Samsung.

RIM haven’t given much away in terms of device specifications, but the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha has a 4.2″ screen with a resolution of 1280×768. It has Micro USB for debugging and charging, a Micro HDMI port for displaying video on a television or monitor with a HDMI port. It also comes equipped with Bluetooth and WiFi radios and is cellular ready (micro SIM).

The prototype handset’s most notable feature is the absence of Blackberry’s trademark keyboard. Instead, it sports a smart virtual keypad that not only learns what its users type most often, but also adjusts to help users avoid repetitive typing mistakes.

“Putting the BB10 prototype into the hands of developers early, despite its unfinished state, is a solid risk-mitigating strategy for RIM but the decision to eliminate the QWERTY keyboard in its first wave of devices is a risky one,” said Katie Lewis, an associate analyst at Yankee Group. “Consumers will be pleased to have an up-and-running app store available for their new BB10 smartphones but may not be so impressed by the missing QWERTY keyboard, a vanishing feature many BlackBerry loyalists know and love.”

Addressing the Blackberry World conference in Florida this week, RIM’s new hot-seat occupant, CEO Thornsten Heins, said the firm was hitting the milestones it had set for itself. “I promise to you that the whole company is laser focussed on delivering on time and meeting your expectations,” he said.

However, the absence of a finished product in the flesh has rung alarm bells with some industry commentators, casting doubt on the company’s ability to produce the goods in line with its deadlines.

The full release of Blackberry 10 is expected later this year, and it’s clear that RIM is serious about getting developers on-side. The new OS has already received the backing of a number of big-name developers including Endomondo, Gameloft, Mippin, Occipital and Poynt.

“The reason why we’re doing this — which is unprecedented for us, and it’s quite uncommon in the industry — is because we want to create a wave of application support behind the new BlackBerrys before we bring them to market,” said Alec Saunders, RIM’s VP of developer relations, in an interview with the New York Times. “If we launch without applications, well, it will be slow.”

 “The support and excitement we already see from developers is both rewarding and encouraging,” said Martyn Mallick, RIM’s Vice President, Global Alliances and Business Development. “We are hearing every day from partners who want to start building and showcasing their work.”

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