The long awaited BlackBerry 10 creates optimism for RIM’s future
By Charlotte Prong Parkhill
Kitchener Post staff
If you’re looking for a little more balance and flow in your life, BlackBerry 10 may be the smartphone that helps you achieve it.
There was a palpable sense of anticipation in the room as Research in Motion provided a preview at a community drop-in demonstration held at the Communitech Hub in the Tannery on Tuesday.
“We recognize that this community has been really supportive of us, not just during this transition period, but over the past 10 years,” said Jeff Gadway, senior manager of product marketing.
The global launch for phones running on the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is expected Jan. 30. The first phone will have a touch screen, but a second product for those who love the full QWERTY keyboard will follow.
Gadway demonstrated the main features of the new smartphone, including better flow that allows the user to keep apps open and running, moving between them without having to return to a home screen each time.
“Flow is all about breaking down the barriers and silos that exist in your smartphone,” he said.
From any screen, with one swipe of the finger, users can peek at their personalized hub where they manage all their conversations — various e-mail accounts, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn or any other social network can be viewed at a glance.
And for those who use one device for both business and personal use, BlackBerry’s balance system will keep personal and work profiles separate, but allow the user to easily toggle between them. An employer won’t be able to access the personal side, and an employee won’t be able to transfer work files to the personal side.
This fits in perfectly in today’s “bring-your-own-device” business climate, Gadway said.
There’s a lot riding on this product launch. RIM has faced a tough transition, with massive layoffs, plunging stock prices and a shakeup of top executives. But stock prices have started to climb again, based on optimism around BlackBerry 10.
Andrew MacLeod, RIM’s managing director for Canada, said the company isn’t focused on negative perceptions, but on creating innovative solutions and technologies.
“We think that when we’re successful in doing that, everything else will fall in line, in terms of perceptions and attention and types of coverage,” he said.
“But at the end of the day, we can’t control that. We’re working really hard on the things we can control.”
MacLeod said outreach to media and the local community is indicative of the changes at RIM.
“There’s a new management team, we’re building a new platform, there’s a new culture that’s being instilled,” he said.
Travelling across Canada to show the new product to customers and carriers, MacLeod said the response has been exceptional.
“There’s a real energy, there’s an excitement when people see the technology, when they see how next-generation the platform is,” he said.
That response was echoed locally. Kitchener councillor Berry Vrbanovic attended the demonstration and said his colleagues in other municipalities have been asking him about it.
“Seeing what it’s going to be like, I think it’s more than going to meet everyone’s expectations,” he said.
“And it’s going to be a real boost for our community.”
For Ian McLean, president and CEO of the Greater KW Chamber of Commerce, said security and speed are must-have features for the 1,800 chamber members.
“The BlackBerry balance is essential,” he said. “Everyone uses their phone for business and personal use.”