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I spent most of my morning watching the webcast of the Blackberry World event in Florida. And I was impressed by what I saw.
The stakes, of course, could scarcely be higher for Research in Motion (RIM-T). Sentiment surrounding the company is as negative as it has ever been, and sales and market share are under heavy pressure.
What could new CEO Thorsen Heins do today to turn things around? He needed to begin persuading people that RIM's new Blackberry 10 operating system is a winner, and capable of launching RIM back into the game as a viable smartphone competitor.
I thought today was a good first step.
Heins displayed a "protoype" Blackberry 10 phone, and he and other RIM executives ran through some of the things BB10 can do. (The prototype looked much like an iPhone or Samsung Galaxy, but RIM has made it clear the finished products will be much different).
The BB10 operating system allows all of the phone's applications to run simultaneously, non-stop. That allows users to easily move between "glances" (RIM's term) of different applications: from a weather forecast to a Twitter feed, or from an email inbox to an email message to a PDF attachment in that message. Moving from one of these views to another took just a subtle flip of the thumb.
The keyboard is a touchscreen keyboard and RIM says it uses algorithms to learn the typing habits of its user. A sophisticated text-completion figure allows the user to drag words from the keyboard into the document.
Heins said several times that RIM has taken its time developing BB10 because it needed to get the product right. (He would only say the finished product would come out later this year.)
"It's why we took this hard road," he said at one point.
I'm hoping RIM gets back in the game after all the dreary, defeatist commentary that has enveloped the company over the past year. And maybe, just maybe, that process began today.