Today was the big day for the company based out of Waterloo, Canada. A lot of announcements, good demos and an official launching of the company’s latest and maybe last effort to save the day. Read on to see how it went.

There is something desperate about your CEO making a big statement expecting a resounding applause to follow only to be met with silence and have to beg the attending press to cheer. Such is the state of BlackBerry. Thornstein Heins is an adequate speaker but nothing more and at times this comes across at awkward moments. We all knew what to expect but BlackBerry 10’s official launch did deliver a few good surprises.

What we knew coming in:

There would be two phones at least introduced at today’s event. Indeed both the all touch Z10 device debuted alongside with the Q10 qwerty physical keyboard.

We knew about the BlackBerry Hub, Flow and Peek. BlackBerry didn’t really show anything we haven’t reviewed and knew about for at least 6 months now. That was a downer but it may have been their only play given their need to make sure the native functions work as advertised to avoid early, platform damning complaints about stability.

What we didn’t know coming in but found out:

RIM is now BlackBerry!

  • A change not just in name but a complete company focus on the brand that is BlackBerry. A singular branded experience shows that the company knows its fate is tied to this launch of the platform.
  • BlackBerry Messenger includes Video Chat and Screen Sharing
  • The ability to Video Chat simply brings the platform on par with other platforms. Nothing more. The real feather in the cap for BlackBerry Messenger is the ability to share screens with other BlackBerry 10 users and display whatever is on your screen or what you’re doing on your phone with someone else. It is a game changing feature for sure. Alas, even this has a major drawback. Proprietary and limited.
  • Much like Apple’s FaceTime that still isn’t close to the resounding standing for video communications and nary a reason anyone switches to Apple products this won’t either. Had this been Skype with the feature than it would be 10x more of a draw.
  • Move over iMovie. BlackBerry has Story Maker.

    In an effort to bring more fun and a more personal, multimedia experience to the platform BlackBerry debuted the iMovie-esque Story Maker that takes video, pictures, audio and add titles to create a “movie” out of them. Honestly, it’s a nice touch to have and appears amazingly simple to use.

    Big Take Away

    At the very beginning of the presentation the “special correspondent” spill seemed awkward and forced. We get it, this is a big deal but not that big a deal to most. Plus all the build up was done with an international flavor. I’m not discounting the importance of the international market. In fact it is pretty much the most important market by far for BlackBerry to survive.

    Let me be clear. Launching mid-March for the U.S. dooms this platform. MWC will have come and gone with both Nokia and I’m sure some other OEM announcing a new wave of awesome devices to arrive soon. A first gen unproven platform with a “new” message against proven and known platforms already in the market will get eaten alive.

    Internationally, the UK was a great place to start and BlackBerry will push hard to win market share and mind share to establish a profitable base to build off of. I see the pricing as somewhat of a deterrent. That is the problem with the current BlackBerry. No longer do they enjoy the advantage of being way cheaper against competing devices. $149 on a 3-year contract is not a cheap phone. I think BlackBerry knows they won’t sell in the same volume so they are going for a higher profit margin. This year amazing phones with amazing features will saturate the market. I don’t see anything BlackBerry has to compete with Siri, Google Now. Sadly I see the end is near for BlackBerry.

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