Last Tuesday, Research in Motion unveiled its BlackBerry 10 platform to developers. The company’s vice president of developer relations and ecosystems development, Alec Saunders, stated in a press release:
“BlackBerry 10 builds upon the core values and exceptional user experiences that have attracted more than 77 million BlackBerry customers around the world today. Developers building for BlackBerry 10 will be able to easily create the kind of cutting-edge apps that deliver truly engaging experiences and ‘wow’ customers, whether through integration with native features and other apps like BBM or by leveraging the new signature design elements of this new and powerful mobile computing platform.”
In addition, they also launched a pre-release prototype device that looks like a smaller version of the PlayBook tablet. The phone manufacturer made the announcement during its BlackBerry World Conference in Orlando, Florida. RIM also released the initial developer toolkit for the native and HTML software development, which is now available for download at BlackBerry’s developer website.
A Shrunken PlayBook
Although RIM launched the BB10 platform for developers, they didn’t show a forthcoming device that will run on the new mobile operating system. However, they demonstrated the OS on a prototype device that RBC Capital Markets’ analyst Mark Sue described as a shrunken PlayBook. In fact, it even resembled a number of Android devices that are already available in the market.
The hardware of the prototype features a 4.2-inch touch screen with 1280×768 pixels of resolution and lacks a QWERTY keyboard, although the hardware components are not finalized. The whole idea is to help developers start designing their BB10-based software. According to Sue’s written note to investors last May 1:
“RIM received applause from the friendly audience for the new BlackBerry features that address its core productivity/message-centric customer base. The BlackBerry 10 UI (based on QNX cascades) appears similar to Microsoft Metro with quick-to-view notifications (which looked to us like Metro’s Live Tiles) and seamless multitasking (e.g. view a PDF attachment, email and list of messages all at the same time).”
What Lies Ahead for RIM
On the other hand, RIM’s Chief Executive Thorsten Heins seems confident that his company will launch its first BlackBerry 10 device in the second half of this year. He expects that carriers will target an October launch, which will coincide with the release of Apple’s next-generation iPhone.
BB10-based applications will run on BB10 smartphones and the PlayBook tablet as soon as the platform is launched. However, Sue predicts that the company will be constrained from dominating the consumer market because of its smaller app/content ecosystem.
It should be recalled that the phone manufacturer reported decreased earnings in late April as three major executives left the company. This includes the company’s co-founder Jim Balsillie.
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