Readying the crowd at the BlackBerry 10 New York City event—which was live streaming to events in Paris, Dubai and beyond—an emcee interviewed Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations, who has spent the last year keeping developers' spirits up and their apps trickling into BlackBerry World. The store is launching with more than 70,000 BlackBerry 10 apps, but by the time the new phones arrive in the United States, there will be more than 100,000.
Heins stepped into the CEO position at BlackBerry last January, and said the year that followed "has easily been the most challenging year of my career ... but also the most rewarding." He thanked former RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis for "guiding us into the future" and said that BlackBerry intends "to lead the movement from mobile communications to true mobile computing."
The New BlackBerry
BlackBerry has been redesigned, re-engineered and reinvented, said Heins. "BlackBerry 10 has a focus on content and apps, and it offers a user experience that adapts beyond anything you have seen before."
The New Phones
Heins introduced the Z10 (pronounced the zed-10 in all markets, but the U.S.) and the Q10. As analysts predicted, the first of these won't arrive in the United States until mid-March, not because the hardware wasn't ready but due to more testing needed on the carrier side. In the U.K., the Z10 will arrive Jan. 31.
Heins and Bhardwaj showed off BlackBerry Hub.
On the Z10, they showed off how words appear over letters as one types and can be easily flicked up to the message.
A Story Maker feature enables a user to quickly choose a few photos and video, click on a song, and have the lot of them instantly turned into a little music view of sorts—a quick, fun way to view an event.
The camera's Time Shift feature—both phones feature 8-megapixel rear cameras and 2-megapixel cameras up front—enables a user to grab the image they want from a small section of time, say from the moment before the subject blinked.
Alicia Keys Joins BlackBerry as Creative Director
Heins announced that BlackBerry had hired a global creative director in 14-time Grammy Award-winning singer Alicia Keys. Keys announced that she was already at work on a project called Keep Moving that included director Robert Rodriguez and writer Neil Gaiman. Heins seemed pleased with the fireball he'd hired in Keys. She joked that she'd "see him at the office." Her contract with BlackBerry, she said, "is for as long as we're being creative together—and that will be a long time."
Keys Talks Up BlackBerry 10
Keys said she'd been using BlackBerry 10 for a few weeks and was "truly inspired by its innovation." In a statement she added, "I know the potential this platform has to help creative people be more productive and help productive people be more creative." In her new role, she added, "my goal is to inspire creativity with this platform, and I'm so excited to jump right in."
The BlackBerry Z10 features a 4.2-inch LCD multi-touch display with a 1280-by-768 pixel resolution, a dual-core S4 Snapdragon processor, Long-Term Evolution (LTE), 4G Mobile Hotspot capabilities, miniUSB and High-Definition Multimedia Interface (HDMI) ports, near-field communication (NFC) and more. It'll arrive in the U.S. around mid-March.
The internals of the Q10 and Z10 are essentially identical. On the Q10, RIM straightened the keyboard and enlarged each key slightly, making it easier to type.