BlackBerry 10 Smartphones Raise Glimmer of Hope for Renamed RIM

NEWS ANALYSIS: BlackBerry showed off two new and interesting smartphone models at its long-delayed launch event in New York City. Whether it will be enough to restore the renamed company's fortunes is for prospective buyers to decide.

The BlackBerry 10 launch event was one of those conflicted events that seem to dog the smartphone maker. On one hand, it was good to see that BlackBerry had finally developed the device to the point that it's solid enough that the company feels confident in releasing it. On the other hand, this wasn't the over-the-top extravaganza that everyone has come to expect with major smartphone launches from companies such as Apple and Microsoft.

Perhaps it was the lack of presentational hype that caused BlackBerry's stock to slide by 6 percent after the announcement before starting to recover. Or maybe it was because investors weren't sure what they were seeing and didn't have Steve Jobs or Steve Ballmer around to tell them how beautiful it is. Instead, what they had was a group of engineers and geeks telling everyone about their cool new phone.

So let's get past the ephemeral nature of hype and think about whether BlackBerry 10 is good enough to save the company. It's worth mentioning now that we're not talking about Research In Motion. The company name was officially changed to BlackBerry, something that was also announced at the launch event.

While the company name change will certainly help with brand recognition, there's a lot more than the name to this launch. The BlackBerry 10 devices need to be good enough to accomplish two goals. First, it needs to retain existing BlackBerry users who might otherwise drift away to Apple and Android devices. Second, they have to be good enough to get former BlackBerry users to come back and induce new users to sign up for a BlackBerry 10 device.

To answer the first question, if the BlackBerry 10 works as well as it appears to work from the launch event, it will certainly slow if not halt the migration of BlackBerry users to other platforms. From the looks of it, the touch-screen Z10 delivers everything it needs to be an excellent phone. It's about the same size and shape (and a similar appearance) as the Nokia Lumia 810, with its 4.2-inch screen and that's a very nice looking phone. The other version of the BlackBerry 10, called the Q10, looks much like a current BlackBerry Bold 9900, but with a bigger 3.1-inch screen.

But what makes the BlackBerry different is the way it works. The QNX-based device does true multi-tasking. You can open several programs at once, move between them as you wish and those programs continue to run in the background.

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash

Wayne Rash is a freelance writer and editor with a 35 year history covering technology. He’s a frequent speaker on business, technology issues and enterprise computing. He covers Washington and...