RIM is expected to release at least one smartphones running its brand new BlackBerry 10 mobile OS later this year. (Check out this leaked and supposedly legitimate 2012 RIM roadmap for specifics.)
And images and concept drawing of suspected BlackBerry 10 devices have slowly been making their ways online for the past few months, the latest of which leaked just yesterday. (See image above.)
Though we've yet to see an "official," final image of a legitimate BlackBerry 10 smartphone, or "superphone," as RIM is reportedly dubbing the devices, these early renderings, along with an image of what appears to be an early prototype handheld, offer some interesting insights into RIM's focus with BlackBerry 10 and its new smartphones.
Specifically, RIM seems to be trying to steal away some of the smartphone buyers who have gravitated toward Apple and Android touch-screen devices, with a strong emphasis on touch in both the new BlackBerry hardware and software. RIM will reportedly release a BlackBerry 10 device with a "physical" keyboard like the ones that made it a leader in the mobile space, and that device is supposedly codenamed "Nevada." But this full QWERTY BlackBerry 10 device won't likely be released until 2013, possibly even more than a year from now.
RIM was also reportedly working on a BlackBerry 10 slider device with both a large touch screen and "physical" QWERTY keyboard, but that device has apparently been scrapped for the time being.
BlackBerry 10 will feel very much like the company's QNX-based PlayBook OS, according to RIM itself, and that software is very much focused on touch gestures and other touch navigation. RIM's new CEO Thorsten Heins recently stated that RIM will target the consumer market in the coming years with BlackBerry 10.
As a long-time BlackBerry user, I'm a bit worried that RIM's touch-screen focus in BlackBerry 10 will leave me and other loyal RIM customers out to dry while the company focuses the majority of its efforts on touch devices aimed at consumer users. Traditional BlackBerry user value RIM's keyboard not just for typing, but for the ability to employ a wide variety of BlackBerry keyboard shortcuts for improved navigation and productivity. And many of us spent a long time learning and mastering those shortcuts to determine the most efficient ways to employ them. It's beginning to look like BlackBerry will simply drop many of those shortcuts and other keyboard-based features.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on why I think RIM would be wise not to focus completely on touch in BlackBerry 10. And after some recent conversations with other BlackBerry users, I feel even more strongly that RIM may be making a big mistake with BlackBerry 10.