RIM reinvents itself with new name, new BlackBerry 10 OS, new smartphones (video)

RIM reinvented itself Wednesday by renaming the company BlackBerry. It charged back into the high competitive smartphone market with a new operating system and a pair of smartphones designed to rival iOS and Android offerings.

At a splashy press event in New York City, the new BlackBerry company showed off its pair of new smartphones: the BlackBerry Z10 and Q10.

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BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins with the Z10, left, and the Q10 smartphones

CEO Thorsten Heins said the 4.2-inch touchscreen Z10 and the 3.1-inch Q10—which resembles a traditional BlackBerry with the familiar physical QWERTY keyboard—symbolize BlackBerry’s transformation.

“BlackBerry has changed,” Heins said. “We have redesigned the BlackBerry experience. We have reengineered our products. We have reinvented this company, and we want to reflect this in our brand.”

The two phones will be available in the U.S. on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile, and Verizon sometime in mid-March, Heins said. Verizon plans to carry a black version of the Z10, as well as an an exclusive white version of the Z10. Each will be available for $200 with a two-year contract. Sprint will offer the Q10 “later this year,” Verizon said.

Other carrier prices and release dates have yet to be announced.

New BlackBerry 10 operating system

BlackBerry has discussed BB10’s features many times over the last several months, but on Wednesday it showed the world the fresh OS in action on the company’s stylish new hardware.

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The new BlackBerry Hub in the BlackBerry 10 OS

BlackBerry 10 is designed for multi-taskers, Heins said. The new BlackBerry Hub stores all of your notifications in one place and lets you use BlackBerry Messenger, send tweets, and respond to Facebook and LinkedIn requests without opening the apps or navigating away from the Hub.

The new Flow feature in BB10 lets you swipe between multiple apps and the Peek feature lets you check the Hub without leaving the screen you’re using.

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Screen sharing in BlackBerry 10

The new operating system offers interesting video and photo features, like BBM video calls and a screen-sharing option so you can remotely view another BBM user’s screen. The camera’s Story Maker lets you add Instagram-like filters to your photos and create slideshows complete with title cards and a soundtrack.

The company isn’t forgetting its base of business-user base, which has clung to BlackBerry when many others jumped ship. BB10 offers BlackBerry Balance, which separates your personal and professional profiles in two modes with different sets of apps.

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The BlackBerry Video feature in BlackBerry 10

BlackBerry also trotted out new global creative director Alicia Keys to share her own story of leaving her trusted BB for a hotter smartphone. She said BlackBerry, like an ex-boyfriend, regained her love when the company said it had been “working out” and adding new features that help manage work and play.

The company won over its brand ambassador, but the question remains: Can BlackBerry attract its former fans?

Solid start

BlackBerry announced Wednesday that its BlackBerry World app store has a base of more than 70,000 apps, including 1,000 heavy hitters such as Facebook, Twitter, Angry Birds, Skype, the New York Times, EA, Amazon Kindle, Whatsapp, and more.

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BlackBerry says its new OS has more than 70,000 apps. Here are some available business-related apps.
Those partnerships are significant; Microsoft drew a slew of criticisms for launching Windows 8 with just 8,000 apps.

The multitasking features and appeal to enterprise clients, 1600 of which have already signed on to upgrade to BB10, Heins said at the press event.

The Z10 will be available in the United Kingdom tomorrow, and in Canada and the United Arab Emirates on Feb. 5. The U.S. rollout delay is due to carrier testing, Heins said.

For comprehensive coverage of the Android ecosystem, visit Greenbot.com.

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