Firm unveils two handsets, Z10 with a touchscreen and Q10 with a keyboard
- On sale tomorrow in UK and next month in stores across US. Handsets run new BlackBerry 10 software, with over 70,000 apps available
- Software allows people to switch between work and personal profiles, But shares fell 7 per cent as firm changes name from RIM to BlackBerry
Blackberry has unveiled its first entirely touchscreen smartphone, in a desperate attempt to rival the iPhone and revive its flagging sales.
The company, once the brand of choice for business customers, has struggled in recent years to compete against Apple and other rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy.
Its market share has dropped dramatically from 41 per cent in 2007, the year the iPhone was launched, to just 4 per cent in the first quarter of last year.
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The Z10 will be available in black and white - just like Apple's iPhone 5
But the firm says the new model, the Z10, has been ‘reinvented’ and offers much better internet, music, camera and email facilities.
The phone goes on sale in the UK first, from today. It will cost from £36 a month on a contract – the same as the 16GB version of the iPhone 5.
It also resembles the iPhone physically, with a large touchscreen. It has a new operating system, the BlackBerry 10, and its makers say the phone is aimed at ‘the true multitasker’.
THE BLACKBERRY Z10
The Z10 device has a touch screen but no 'middle button' while the Q10 has a Qwerty keyboard for 'the best typing experience on smartphone'.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins, who also announced that the firm is changing its name from RIM to BlackBerry, said: 'We have been on a journey of transformation... We intend to lead the move from mobile communication to mobile computing.'
But the handset maker was immediately accused of 'copying' the iPhone's design and software with its BB10 operating system.
Twitter users led the complaints, with comments ranging from 'ripoff' to 'carbon copy', while other said the handsets bore a 'striking resemblance' to each other.
Launching the two handsets in New York, Mr Heins said: 'It's been one year since I was handed the reins, and it has been challenging, but exhilarating,' said Mr Heins.
'Now, finally, here we are - Blackberry 10 is here'
But the shares fell 5 per cent as the Canadian announced it was changing its name to BlackBerry from Research In Motion, and by the conclusion of the launch the shares were down 7 per cent.
But the firm insisted it could turn around its struggling fortunes - even revealing that it had signed up musician Alicia Keys as its 'global creative director'.
'Alicia Keys has come to BlackBerry because she believes in the product and technology, and subscribes to our overriding philosophy to ‘Keep Moving’: to empower people through mobile computing and communications,' said Mr Heins.
In the UK, the handset will be free on tariffs starting at £36 per month from Carphone Warehouse.
BlackBerry President and Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins (L) stands with new BlackBerry Global Creative Director Alicia Keys at the launch
Thorsten Heins, CEO of Research in Motion, introduces the BlackBerry 10 devices
The handsets do not have a home button, instead using a user's thumb to 'flick' across the screen.
It also has a new 'peek' feature that allows owners to see their email and other messages from anywhere in the phone's menu system by swiping from the left of the screen.
The firm also said it had worked to create the 'best typing experience' of any handset.
It also boasts a new feature called balance to switch between a personal and business mode - each with its own applications, wallpaper and settings.
'People run around with two phones, a private one and a personal one,' said Mr Heins.
'We wanted to address that, and people can switch with a single flick.'
He said the new handsets were for 'people who are hyper-connected socially, who need balance in both personal and professional lives.
'People who want to flow, who don't want a home button. Blackberry 10 will keep them moving.'
Another new feature called 'active frames' allows people to have several apps open at once, and easily.
The firm also boasted of over 70,000 apps for the device, including Facebook, Twitter, Linked, Angry Birds and MailOnline.
Alex Saunders of Blackberry said: 'There is a huge wave of support from developers, we are totally stoked and would like to say thank you to them'
'We have put together bar none the biggest number of apps for a first generation product.
'This is a day we have been waiting for for a long time.'
Will Findlater, editor of Stuff magazine said: 'I think that although the iPhone and BB10 look similar at first glance, in use they are very different.
'The similarity between BB10 and the iPhone has caused concern, but iOS is simple to use, so its no surprise they have gone down that road,'
'If there is a cause for concern it could be around the shape of the Z10, the rounded corners look very similar to an Apple product.'
'There's no denying that the designs are similar at first glance, but under the surface they are very different,' said Ernest Doku of uSwitch.
Analysts were impressed by the launch.
Michael Gartenberg of Gartner said the handset 'definitely meets needs for launch.
'Momentum, execution and of course perception will be key.'
The firm has suffered in recent years largely due to the popularity of the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S3.
But early reports say the new handsets, running new BB10 software, could give the firm a new chance of survival.
One expert who has used the device ahead of the launch said it would appeal to both businesses and consumers because it had ‘high specifications’ that allowed users to do ‘good stuff in a couple of clicks’.
Even Sir Alan Sugar has backed the handset, tweeting 'Getting a new Blackberry 10 on Friday.
'Had a preview,think this time they may have cracked it - very clever features all new operating system.'
A persons holds a new BlackBerry touchscreen device which uses a new operating system (BB10) at Old Billingsgate, London
Thorsten Heins, CEO of Research in Motion, introduces the BlackBerry Q10, which has a physical keyboard
WHAT THE CRITICS SAY
'Because of the fast-rising adoption of smartphones, 2013 represents the last, best hope for RIM's BlackBerry 10,' said said Ian Fogg, an analyst at IHS.
However, others believe the firm is too late with the delayed handsets.
'There are so many amazing smart phones in the shops running Google's Android or Apple's iPhone software, it's hard to see why anyone would want to buy a phone running BlackBerry 10,' said Jason Jenkins, Editor of CNET UK.
'Perhaps if this had launched a couple of years ago, it might have had a hope.
'The one sliver of hope is that there might be some potential customers that like the new BlackBerry with a proper keyboard, rather than an on-screen version seen in most rival phones.
'But I'm not sure there's enough of them.'
However, Jenkins admits the phones could keep the firm alive.
'The launch keeps BlackBerry in the game - just - but only as a niche player.'
RIM's stock has more than doubled to $15.66 from a nine-year low in September, though it's still nearly 90 percent below its 2008 peak of $147.
'We'll see if they can reclaim their glory,' BGC Financial analyst Colin Gillis said.
'My sense is that it will be a phone that everyone says good things about but not as many people buy,'
However the new system will face a key shortcoming: It won't have as many apps written by outside companies and individuals as the iPhone and Android.
RIM has said it plans to launch BlackBerry 10 with more than 70,000 apps, including those developed for RIM's PlayBook tablet, first released in 2011.
That is a tenth of what the iPhone and Android offer, and popular services such as Instagram and Netflix won't have apps on BlackBerry 10.
BlackBerry Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins displays one of the new Blackberry Z10 smartphone
The new handsets were unveiled at an event in New York
Despite this, Jefferies analyst Peter Misek called it a 'great device' and said RIM does have some momentum just months after the Canadian company was written off.
Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst with Informa, said the new operating system (OS) on the two expected handsets was a ‘trump card’ that could see it win back customers lost through the poor performance of the previous BlackBerry 7 phones.
He said: ‘The ‘experience’ is very attractive for business users and consumers.'
Mr Kamal-Saadi used the new models at RIM’s European headquarters in Slough.
He said the system would be appealing to both business and social high-end users in Europe and North America, where BlackBerry lost the most ground over the past two or three years.
But he added that the software was similar to the first generation of iPhones in being so radically different it may take people a little while to get used to it.
He believes investors will ‘leap into the sky’ if BB10 sells more than four million units in the first three months on sale, but sales of between one and two million would be acceptable.
'Anything less than one million would be a ‘big mess,' he said.
He pointed out that the first iPhone, which went on to become extremely popular, did not exceed four million sales in the first quarter year of sales and the less popular Windows phone sold between one-and-a-half and two million.
BlackBerry’s handsets are widely credited with kick-starting the smartphone boom.
VIDEO Blackberry develop 'Flow and Peak' motion for new Z10
Ernest Doku, technology expert with uSwitch.com, said: ‘For RIM and BlackBerry, it is very much the resurrection of the BlackBerry brand.
‘Consumers have been waiting a long time to see what they were coming up with.
'They have fallen to the wayside but a lot of signs are pointing to this being their return to relevance in the smartphone market.’
‘Nine out of 10 consumers we asked related that with the BlackBerry.
‘BlackBerry has been lucky in terms of its (fanbase) loyalty which may not have been the case for people like Nokia.
‘It could well be a success story for them.’
The battle for domination of the mobile and tablet market has become intense in the past 18 months, with Apple’s competitors taking it on with a series of new products.
Nokia and Microsoft joined forces to launch two new phones which run on the Windows operating system.
Apple was dealt a new blow to morale as figures for the Christmas period showed its rocket-like growth had continued to stall, causing a fall in its share price.
BLACKBERRY Z10 - MAILONLINE'S VERDICT
VIDEO BlackBerry's exclusive first look at the new Z10
full source: www.dailymail.co.uk
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