Research in Motion changed its corporate name Wednesday to that of its only product, Blackberry, and announced two new smartphones running a completely new operating system that finally puts the Blackberry on par with competing devices.
While Blackberry was beloved as an email device, their competitors delivered the full Internet much more effectively and users flocked away in droves over the last couple of years. In the last quarter of 2012, Apple sold 47.8 million devices to Blackberry’s 7.8 million.
The new OS, called Blackberry 10, features a redesigned touch screen interface and a much faster web experience that includes a fully functional HTML5 compliant browser. An app store will feature applications popular on other platforms such as Foursquare and Angry Birds.
Blackberry will launch the new operating system first on its new Z10 phone, which looks like a slightly larger iPhone 5 and oddly lacks what people love best about the Blackberry platform: a physical keyboard. The Z10 will feature a display that’s on par with the iPhone’s retina resolution as well as an improved camera that delivers 8 megapixels.
Later in April Blackberry plans to introduce the Q10, a more traditional Blackberry design that includes a touch screen along with the very functional keyboard that its 79 million current users know and love. It wasn’t quite ready at the Wednesday unveiling and Blackberry officials did not allow reporters to operate the device.
Reviews so far are mixed. Tech site The Verge, in an extensive pre-release review of the Z10, gave a largely lackluster review of the new device and operating system.
“The problem with the Z10 is that it doesn’t necessarily do anything better than any of its competition,” The Verge editor Joshua Topolsky wrote.
Blackberry posted a loss of over $500 million in the last quarter and is pinning its hopes that these two new devices will appeal to the 79 million users worldwide who have stuck with the Blackberry platform. But with the first device out of the gate lacking a physical keyboard, will they stick around long enough for the Q10?