It’s now January, which means that by the end of the month we should see two new Blackberry handsets carrying the latest BB10 software, and find out whether developer team Research in Motion (RIM) still has what it takes to stay afloat in the competitive smartphone marketplace.
The two new handsets are expected to be available by January 30th, and early information indicates something quite different to the standard Blackberry fare; the iconic physical QWERTY keyboard has been replaced by a touchscreen (although RIM have promised that a keyboard version will surface in the future), and leaked images show a similar-looking build to the iPhone 5, with a black-matte minimalist design.
While the launch has not been without its hiccups – long delays between announcements and the inconsistent reliability of many existing services such as email and BBM have affected the company’s stocks – BB10 has slowly been building hype over the past month, with RIM promising a sleek new interface, faster browsing and more apps, as well as the much-anticipated feature Blackberry Balance which separates your work and personal life. It’s seen as the most important launch in the developer’s history – even more so due to the increasing pressure applied by the unexpected success of Windows Phone 8.
While retailers and providers are confident about the new launch, with every British service stocking the new phone upon release, many tech journalists are maintaining a cautious attitude. Gareth Beavis, from leading gadget website TechRadar, tested the phone and commented: “The early view shows RIM has done its homework. It’s a very intuitive system that’s easy to navigate. That said, it’s not all about the software. It has to be right but, on top of that, it needs quality apps, stunning hardware and low prices to compete. RIM is hoping to compete in the touchscreen market while maintaining its place as the top provider of keyboard-powered smartphones.”
The phone may be pegged as a make-or-break offering from RIM, but if previous models of Blackberry phones are anything to go by, it seems it will still be popular with RIM’s growing fanbase. Watch this space for more updates when we finally get to take a look at the new handset!