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.

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

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Gadgets & Tech

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin

    £13676.46 - £16411.61 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree Trainee Recruitment Cons...

    Ashdown Group: Database Analyst - Birmingham - £22,000 plus benefits

    £20000 - £22000 per annum + excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Application Sup...

    SThree: Recruitment Resourcer

    £20000 - £25000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Do you want to get in...

    SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

    £25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

    Day In a Page

    Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

    Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

    Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

    Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

    Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
    China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

    China's influence on fashion

    At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
    Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

    The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

    Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
    Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

    Rainbow shades

    It's all bright on the night
    'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

    Bread from heaven

    Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
    Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

    How 'the Axe' helped Labour

    UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
    Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

    The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

    A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    Welcome to the world of Megagames

    300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
    'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

    Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

    Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

    Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

    The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
    Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

    Vince Cable exclusive interview

    Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
    Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

    Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

    Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
    Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

    It's time for my close-up

    Meet the man who films great whites for a living
    Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

    Homeless people keep mobile phones

    A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before