RIM tantalizes crowd with BB10 demo

ORLANDO – Some 5,000 Research In Motion application developers and partners were wowed Tuesday by the first public demonstration of the capabilities of next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system.

“This takes is unto new era of computing way beyond smartphones,” declared CEO Thorsten Heins.

Although he cautioned that there are still a few “secrets” RIM is hiding from competitors until its release “later this year,” Heins and company staff showed three capabilities;

–running applications can be layered on top of each other in a staggered way, and pushed aside with a swipe. RIM calls this a glancing gesture;

–the virtual keyboard not only learns what words you prefer when you type, the words it anticipates appear above the letter you hit. If you want the word, flick it up and it appears in the message;

–the biggest crowd pleaser was an aid for the digital camera, which can roll back a few seconds before a photo is snapped to catch subject when their eyes are open.
It was important for Heins and RIM staff to impress the audience, which includes many of the companies corporate and carrier customers, to show that it will soon have a platform that can grab the attention of handset buyers.

RIM has been steadily losing market share to iPhone and Android handset buyers, leaving mobile telecom managers and devlopers in doubt about investing in its future.

One industry analyst said today’s morning keynotes — which included promises from gaming and application development companies to support BB10 – at least accomplished part of that.

“They did what they needed to do today,” said Michael Gartenberg, vice-president of research at Gartner.

“It was a good presentation,” he said of Heins’ first effort in the spotlight after being appointed CEO three months ago. And he acknowledged that the operating system will have features that differentiate it from competitors.

“RIM’s definitely in the game,” he said.

But, he added, “it’s going to take a lot of effort for them to deliver all they showed.”

RIM is using this event to accelerate developer, customer and partner interest in BB10. Starting today, registered developers get a prototype handset to run early versions of their applications on an early version of the operating system. A software developer kit was also released.

The company also brought out executives from a number of companies to endorse BB10 and say they are preparing applications for it, part of an effort to assure customers that a healthy ecosystem for the new platform will exist when it launches.

Those appearing included officials from Cisco Systems Inc., which is readying its AnyConnect secure client, WebX and Jabber collaboration apps; Citrix, which is developing Receiver; and a number of game developers.

PixelMags, an online content management system for print publications including Conde Nast Traveller, Esquire, GQ and Cosmopolitan, promised that every BB10 user will get 10 minutes free to read anything on its newsstand. Paid subscribers get unlimited reading time and the ability to download content.

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Howard Solomon
Howard Solomon
Currently a freelance writer, I'm the former editor of ITWorldCanada.com and Computing Canada. An IT journalist since 1997, I've written for several of ITWC's sister publications including ITBusiness.ca and Computer Dealer News. Before that I was a staff reporter at the Calgary Herald and the Brampton (Ont.) Daily Times. I can be reached at hsolomon [@] soloreporter.com

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