BlackBerry 10 Will Feature Widgets, Universal Inbox: Report

RIM's BlackBerry 10 will feature widgets, an icon tray with smart icons and a universal inbox, according to images posted on the CrackBerry blog.

Research In Motion€™s upcoming BlackBerry 10 will feature home-screen €œwidgets€ reminiscent of Microsoft Windows Phone€™s Live Tiles, according to a Feb. 13 posting by the CrackBerry blog.

The top image from that posting, which drew its information from a document prepared by €œone of RIM€™s external ad agency partners,€ featured those widgets in action: a weather one complete with temperature and cloud-cover indication, a mini-map with the user€™s location highlighted, a phone icon with notations for €œminutes left€ and €œlast call.€ Unlike Windows Phone tiles, which are square and often monochromatic, these BlackBerry 10 widgets are rectangular and pack a good deal of information into a relatively small (but colorful) space.

Other images in the posting include an updated icon tray with €œsmart icons€ that likewise display information. €œNote that the Folder icon shows the icons of applications inside, and the Pictures icon shows a photo from the album within,€ read the posting. €œThe clock icon even shows the time of the next set alarm.€

Other BlackBerry 10 features spied in the document include a universal inbox and a caller-display screen with an icon for video chat.

RIM has made no secret of its intention to bet heavily on BlackBerry 10, reportedly due sometime in the second half of 2012. The company€™s current BlackBerry devices have failed to prevent its U.S. market share from sliding in the face of aggressive competition from Apple€™s iPhone and the growing family of Google Android smartphones. A renewed push by Microsoft€™s Windows Phone could also complicate the environment for RIM in 2012.

But doubling down on BlackBerry 10 also comes with risks, especially if it means abandoning other plans that could potentially maintain the company€™s visibility in the mobile sphere.

€œOur checks indicate RIM is likely to move away from a proposal to the Board that RIM license BB10 to Samsung and launch a new BBM, email, and social networking app for iOS/Android for a monthly fee,€ Peter Misek, an analyst with Jefferies & Co., wrote in a co-authored Feb. 3 research note. The new plan, he added, will center on RIM's competing against €œApple, Android, and Windows ecosystems with their own integrated hardware/software/services ecosystem.€

He doesn€™t profess much faith in this plan: €œWe recently met with [newly minted RIM CEO Thorsten] Heins and found him engaging, articulate, and thoughtful,€ read the report. €œWe see no evidence that he is under the influence of the former management in any way. But we respectfully disagree with him.€

In a Jan. 31 posting, CrackBerry posted an image of what it called the first BlackBerry 10 device, code-named London. Black and ultra-slim and somewhat narrow, with a wide touch-screen and rounded edges, it represented something of a deviation from the €œstereotypical€ BlackBerry form factor of physical QWERTY keyboard paired to a relatively small screen. But a deviation from the norm is perhaps what RIM needs at this transitional moment in its history.

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