BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential

1 - BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential
2 - BlackBerry CEO Celebrates an 'Incredible Year'
3 - Q10 Coming in June
4 - Introducing the BlackBerry Q5
5 - BlackBerry Q5
6 - BBM for iOS, Android
7 - BlackBerry BBM Channels
8 - Lewis Hamilton: A BlackBerry User
9 - Formula One Fans in the House
10 - QNX Concept Car
11 - No Future in Driving and Video Chatting
12 - Peers in a "Ferociously Innovative" Industry
13 - BlackBerry COO Christian Tear
14 - BlackBerry Creative Director Alicia Keys
15 - Alicia Keys on a Mission
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BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential

by Michelle Maisto

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BlackBerry CEO Celebrates an 'Incredible Year'

"I remember being right here one year ago ... and this feels very, very different," said Heins, who since last year's event has launched a new platform and two smartphones, delivered a profitable quarter and enjoyed the most successful launch year for BlackBerry smartphones.

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Q10 Coming in June

With the Z10, BlackBerry hopes to attract new customers to the platform, but many die-hard BlackBerry users want the dedicated QWERTY keyboard on the Q10. The latter will finally be available in the United States in June, said Heins, who had originally put the date around mid-April.

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Introducing the BlackBerry Q5

Heins then introduced yet another BlackBerry 10-running QWERTY smartphone, the Q5, which will begin shipping to developing markets—in black, white, red and pink—in July.

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BlackBerry Q5

Like the Q10, the Q5 pairs a 3.1-inch touch display with a QWERTY keypad. Its camera includes the Time Shift feature, its BBM includes BBM Video and the device, of course, also features the BB10 Hub.

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BBM for iOS, Android

"It's time to bring BBM to a greater audience ... no matter what mobile device they carry," said Heins. If approved by Apple and Google, BlackBerry will begin offering the free app in their stores this summer.

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BlackBerry BBM Channels

BlackBerry also introduced BBM Channels, a social platform for engaging with businesses, groups, celebrities and more. It's currently in beta. BlackBerry will update it every few weeks, based on user feedback, and officially launch it later this summer.

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Lewis Hamilton: A BlackBerry User

Among the early organizations to create a Channel is the Mercedes AMG Petronas Formula One team, which sent one of its drivers, superstar Lewis Hamilton, to the show. "Connecting quickly with fans is really important to us," he said. With Channels, "we can keep them directly involved."

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Formula One Fans in the House

To the delight of the very international audience, it was announced that there were a few checkered flags under the seats, and the lights temporarily went up as people frisked their seat bottoms. The lucky few were later able to have their photos taken with Hamilton.

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QNX Concept Car

Hamilton's wasn't the only car to make it to the stage. QNX showed off its "engineering chops" with a Bentley Continental concept vehicle. BlackBerry envisions a future where one's main device is the brain or engine, informing other devices or endpoints. They imagine cars will be "just another mobile endpoint."

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No Future in Driving and Video Chatting

Heins joined Mark Rigley, director of BlackBerry's QNX concept development team, in the car, and together they placed a video call to a smartphone. For safety reasons, should the vehicle begin to move, the call would convert to a voice call.

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Peers in a "Ferociously Innovative" Industry

Another special guest was Johann Jungwirth, CEO of Mercedes-Benz. When asked where he sees his business in five or 10 years, Jungwirth answered, "I can say that cars will be much more connected, much more intelligent [and] the cloud will play a bigger role. We have just launched Intelligent Drive. ... It's incredible the opportunities we have."

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BlackBerry COO Christian Tear

COO Christian Tear, also presented during the keynote, talked up the importance of BlackBerry Balance, for offering not just data security but user privacy, and made clear that the Department of Defense—despite rumors—is still a customer. "We're seeing organizations like the DOD ... committed to BlackBerry as a critical component of their ... infrastructure," said Tear.

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BlackBerry Creative Director Alicia Keys

Alicia Keys, who will play a "unique, one-time only experience" for BlackBerry Live attendees, took to the stage to introduce a BlackBerry Scholars Program, which will award full four-year tuition scholarships to women pursuing degrees in the STEM areas—science, technology engineering and math—or with interest in mobile computing. Currently, women are CEOs of only 20 of the Fortune 500 companies.

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Alicia Keys on a Mission

Keys said it's part of her mission at BlackBerry to make women a priority. She pointed out that 56 percent of BlackBerry users are women, more women than men graduate from college and women are embracing mobile technology at a faster pace than men. "It makes sense," said Keys. "We girls are efficient. We get stuff done."

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