1BlackBerry Live Jammed With News, Giddy With Potential
by Michelle Maisto
2BlackBerry 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.
3Q10 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.
4Introducing 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.
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.
6BBM 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.
7BlackBerry 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.
8Lewis 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.”
9Formula 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.
10QNX 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.”
11No 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.
12Peers 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.”
13BlackBerry 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.
14BlackBerry 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.
15Alicia 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.”