BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential

By Michelle Maisto  |  Posted 2013-05-15 Print this article Print

BlackBerry is quick to acknowledge that it has a ways to go on the road to re-establishing itself as a, if not the, leading mobile brand. At its 2013 BlackBerry Live conference, which kicked off May 14 in Orlando, Fla., the company celebrated how far it has already come and made a long list of announcements, offering a sense of the road ahead. It introduced the Q5, its first mid-tier smartphone to run BlackBerry 10. It announced plans to extend BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to Android and iOS devices this summer. It introduced BBM Channels, a social networking platform that puts BBM users in contact with companies and brands. It also announced the immediate rollout of BlackBerry 10.1, offered a small peek at its work in the connected-car space and introduced a college scholarship program to help women rise to positions of power in the tech world. BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins, making F1 metaphors, after a cameo appearance from F1 driver Lewis Hamilton, said during the morning's events, "We're on the starting grid. I wouldn't yet claim that we have pole position ... but we are going to do everything we can to see the checkered flag first. That is our aspiration." Read on for highlights from the conference's kickoff.

  • BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential

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

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