BlackBerry 10 will play down its keyboard models; official debut on Jan. 30
Software developers for Research In Motion Ltd.'s BlackBerry 10 smartphones have yet to get models with physical keyboards, the latest sign RIM is de-emphasizing its once-signature feature in favor of touch screens.
RIM will distribute prototypes with physical keyboards after the software platform's official debut on Jan. 30, said Victoria Berry, a company spokeswoman. Developers were given touch-screen versions months ago, letting them design applications for the phones. The pending keyboard prototypes will be known as Dev Alpha C devices, she said.
RIM is concentrating on smooth glass handsets that resemble Apple Inc.'s iPhone 5 or Samsung Electronics Co.'s Galaxy S III, shifting away from the raised black keypads that inspired the BlackBerry name. While RIM will sell a BlackBerry 10 model with a physical keyboard to cater to e-mail traditionalists, Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins has said he expects the touch version to account for most orders.
RIM is right to prioritize touch-screen models for growth, though it can't afford to drop keyboard-equipped handsets altogether, said Roger Entner, an analyst at Recon Analytics in Dedham, Mass.
“You can't build a smartphone without a touch screen anymore,” he said. “But you can't expect your loyal user base to stick with you if you take away why they've stuck with you.”
The BlackBerry's name derives from the idea that the tiny, black keys on the device resemble the fruit. Users furiously pecking away at the keyboards fueled the image of the “CrackBerry” addict in the years before smartphones.
RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, began handing out test models of the new BlackBerry 10 smartphones to developers in May. RIM stressed then that the prototype would differ from the final product, and that the glass slab was designed to give developers a tool to approximate the surface of the BlackBerry 10 touch-screen model.
Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben said this month that there are more than 70,000 apps available for BlackBerry 10, a sufficient number to make RIM competitive with more widely adopted platforms offered by Apple and Google Inc., whose Android system is used by Samsung.
Separate software developer kits, known as SDKs, will be distributed with the Dev Alpha C devices to help programmers tailor their apps to the smaller screen and different button controls on the keyboard models, RIM's Berry said. As with the touch-screen versions, these prototypes will look different from the products that go on sale, she said.
BlackBerry fans must wait until the Jan. 30 debut for the first official glimpse of both the touch and keypad model. To prepare for the rollout, more than 120 American companies, including 64 members of the Fortune 500, are doing advanced testing of BlackBerry 10 devices —thus far solely with touch-screen models, RIM said.
RIM shares closed up 17 cents at $14.91 in New York on Thursday. The stock has more than doubled since late September on optimism that BlackBerry 10 can reverse declining sales.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Kennametal profits drop more than half in fiscal fourth quarter
- Post-Gazette offers voluntary buyouts in bid to avoid layoffs
- Range Resources cuts workforce 11%
- U.S. Steel CEO expects rebound
- GNC sales, profits slip in second quarter
- Muni bond funds stressed
- PPG puts brand 1st in strategy to reach commercial paint market
- Bayer sets sights beyond aspirin
- Travelers find direct Web route to Priory’s spirited past in North Side
- Voice-assisted technology raises privacy concerns
- United Airlines hack coincided with incursion into government employee data