Not according to type: it's out with the keyboard and in with a touchscreen as BlackBerry goes for an iPhone look with its Z10

 

New York

There was a time when the world loved BlackBerry. Kids adored its messenger service, corporate titans favoured its Qwerty keypad (so much easier to tap out those mission-critical  emails on the move), while everyone from Cristiano Ronaldo to P Diddy, Lady Gaga and even Barack Obama were rarely seen in public without one. 

In 2009 Research in Motion, the company behind the brand, was the fastest growing corporation in the world. The global economy was shot to pieces, but profits were up 84 per cent in three years. But from there it was all downhill, slowly at first then a calamitous descent into oblivion that saw its share price fall from $140 (£90) to just $8 (£5) last October.

Yesterday, BlackBerry took the first step on what it hopes will be a journey back to the big time. In a simultaneous series of launches from New York’s Lower East Side to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, it made a grab for some Apple-style cool via a series of new phones and a revamped operating system the does more than just deliver unwelcome messages from your boss. The latest products build in flashy graphics, better cameras, bigger screens and greater connectivity with social media, alongside new office-friendly features.

The struggling brand, which suffered tremendously when Apple’s iPhone and Samsung’s Galaxy range of smartphones hit the market, also attempted to reinvent itself by abandoning the Research in Motion name it has used since the 1980s but which is barely known beyond the business world. Instead, the company has been rechristened, simply, BlackBerry.

Taking a leaf out of Apple’s wildly successful playbook, the company has also rebuilt its app store, BlackBerry World. It is now an iTunes-style digital mall, hawking music, movies and TV episodes as the the company wagers its future on the re-launch. BlackBerry has spent months working with developers to ensure 70,000 apps will be available from its launch - including a new app from The Independent.

In fact, the new operating system looks more like Apple’s iOS than ever before, with touch gestures to navigate between screensand the kind of smooth transitions that the late Steve Jobs used to wow the world with.

Among the new features is a reworking of the BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM, service, which now accommodates video calls. The new screen-share feature allows users to share pictures – or PowerPoint presentations – with each other instantly.

Of the two handsets unveiled yesterday, the Z10 is a touchscreen device – again not unlike the iPhone – while the Q10 comes with a more traditional physical keyboard.

The stakes for Blackberry – and new boss Thorsten Heins, who was named chief executive after a shake-up of the top team last year – couldn’t be higher. As recently as three years ago it commanded a 20 per cent share of the global smartphone market, but in the three months to December last year that figure had plummeted to under 4 per cent, according to data from research firm Strategy Analytics. In the US, its share went from more than 40 per cent to a paltry 2 per cent.

“We have definitely been on a journey of transformation” said Heins, speaking in New York. Yesterday, the shares jumped as the line-up was unveiled but then began falling sharply as news filtered out that they won’t be available in the key US market until March, or thereabouts. In the UK, Phones4U will begin selling the Z10 from this morning.

But the more meaningful test will come in the long term, when market share figures emerge. Apple has been losing ground to Samsung, but BlackBerry will be hoping the future tastes a little sweeter today.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    Recruitment Genius: Software Developer

    £27500 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

    Recruitment Genius: IT Support Analyst

    £35000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the go-to company for ...

    Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

    £20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

    Recruitment Genius: Digital Web Designer

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Web Designer is required to join a f...

    Day In a Page

    Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

    The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

    How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
    Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

    Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

    'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

    Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

    How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

    Art attack

    Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
    Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

    Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

    Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
    Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

    'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

    Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
    10 best wedding gift ideas

    It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

    Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
    Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

    Paul Scholes column

    With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
    Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

    Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

    Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
    Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

    Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

    The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
    Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

    For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
    Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

    Fifa corruption arrests

    All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
    Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

    The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

    In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

    How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

    Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
    Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

    How Stephen Mangan got his range

    Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor