New BlackBerry 10 Devices Impress - But Can They Save RIM?

CIO.com's Al Sacco went hands-on with RIM's first BlackBerry 10 smartphones, and both the hardware and software are unique and innovative. But the devices still might not be enough to revive RIM and the BlackBerry brand. Here's why.

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Tue, August 28, 2012

CIO — You may not have noticed, but BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) has been on a media blitz during the past few weeks, showing off its upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphones to select reporters and bloggers in "off-the-record" demonstrations.

RIM's BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Smartphone
RIM's BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Smartphone

Yesterday, I got some hands-on time with both of RIM's first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones. One is an all-touch device that looks like a polished version of RIM's BlackBerry 10 Alpha device that was distributed to developers in May; and the other looks like an evolution of RIM's Bold line of devices--though it's unclear if it will be called Bold--with a touch screen and a full QWERTY traditional BlackBerry keyboard.

RIM told the media that we can share general opinions of the devices and software, but not specifics, such as technical specifications or hardware features. Some details have already been released, including the screen resolutions of both handhelds (1280 x 720 for the touch device and 720 x 720 for the QWERTY BlackBerry) and the fact that both devices have removable batteries.

Both devices are expected to be released in early 2013, with the all-touch BlackBerry 10 device releasing shortly before the full QWERTY handheld. These first two devices will represent RIM's "high-end" tier of BlackBerry 10 devices, and RIM plans to release two more pairs of devices--one touch, one QWERTY--to cater to the mid- and entry-level tiers later in 2013.

The first two devices will also presumably support 4G LTE, since RIM CEO Thorsten Heins recently cited a lack of LTE support in current in-market BlackBerry devices as one of the issues that caused RIM to lose market share to rivals including Apple and Google.

The majority of feedback from the media on the first two BlackBerry 10 devices has been positive. But I'm still not sure these two devices, and the additional BlackBerry 10 handsets RIM releases next year, will be enough to reverse RIM's rapidly declining market share and save the BlackBerry brand. I'll explain why shortly. But first, some thoughts on the upcoming BlackBerry 10 hardware and software.

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