The company formerly known as Research In Motion says its product line is “re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented” with the introduction today of the BlackBerry 10 operating system and two devices: the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10. The goal is to make it easy for users to switch between work and personal applications with separate home screens. The Z10 has a 4.2-inch, high-definition touchscreen, while the Q10 has a smaller screen and a physical keyboard. They’ll come with 16 GB of memory, and a slot for a memory card. The back opens, so users can replace the battery. The company says they offer simple ways to launch video chats with multiple applications open. A Screen Share application makes it possible for another user to take charge of the screen. Users can focus the camera via touch screen commands, and manipulate images with a built-in picture editor. The Story Maker application can create videos with music and images edited in. The company says it has more than 1,000 BlackBerry 10 apps including Skype, Amazon Kindle, SAP, Angry Birds, Facebook, Twitter, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, and TuneIn. All of the major studios and music companies will offer content on BlackBerry World. The phones are expected to be available in the U.S. by March, and while carriers will determine pricing CEO Thorsten Heins said it likely will be $150 with a three-year contract. He says that musician Alicia Keys will serve as BlackBerry’s creative director. “I broke with you for something with a little more bling,” she said at the rollout event. “Now we’re exclusively dating again.” She says she’ll work with app designers and retailers, and people in entertainment and music, to help bridge the gap between a work phone and a play phone.
Heins marked the occasion by changing the company name. “From today on, we are BlackBerry everywhere in the world,” he said. The company stock symbol will be BBRY. But investors seemed underwhelmed by the rollout: The stock, which had been up 4% this morning, fell to -5%. Heins desperately needs businesses and app developers to embrace Blackberry 10. The company’s shares have lost nearly 73% of their value over the last two years as the smartphone pioneer lost market share to Apple’s iPhones and a slew of handsets that run Google’s Android operating system. IHS Senior Principal Analyst Ian Fogg calls 2013 “the last, best hope for RIM’s BlackBerry 10 — along with endangered specimens like Microsoft’s Windows Phone, Nokia’s Lumia and Mozilla’s Firefox — to create a viable third smartphone competitor in the market.”
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