Martin is reporting from the Blackberry Jam Americas event at San Jose, California. Contact him.
RIM’s stock was up 4.68% after yesterday’s General Session held in San Jose, California. It’s a spark in the dark for the convalescent titan from Waterloo, but the jury is still out whether or not the excitement felt today is a harbinger for a full-scale comeback.
Having said that, BlackBerry 10 is shaping up to be an uncharacteristically polished effort for the enterprise-first company that entered the consumer market out of necessity in the wake of the iPhone’s success in 2007.
We’ve had glimpses of the BlackBerry 10 user interface and although little new insight was revealed today, there’s a definite unique identity emerging. Here’s a new video showing BlackBerry 10 concepts such as “Peeking”, “Flow” and the “BlackBerry Hub” — which looks like a unified messaging area — as well as some updates to BBM, real-time multi-language text prediction and “Active Frames” á la Windows Phone live tiles.
BlackBerry 10 is a departure from the app centric grid paradigm so ingrained in Android and iOS. Instead, the BlackBerry Hub lists notifications which open relevant apps. Don Lindsay, VP for UX design at RIM, gave an example of how the BlackBerry Hub works and how “Peeking” differs from the traditional approach of task switching.
“Let’s say I’m in the middle of browsing a web page and the red BlackBerry notification LED starts flashing. Today I would have to leave the browser — navigate or task switch to the messages application. What peek allows me to do, is start swiping, see the number of notifications, but then continue the gesture to see the full message. I can reverse the gesture to go back to browsing.”
During the keynote, developers were wooed with SDK updates, new frameworks, development timetables, demonstrations from high-profile developers from Facebook and Foursquare, and serenaded by Alec Saunders, VP of developer relations for RIM.
The crowd was treated to some smoothly running demos of games such as Shadowgun and Jetpack Joyride and RIM also revealed that there will be native Twitter and LinkedIn apps at launch.
RIM gave a shout out to its enterprise customers and demoed App World for enterprise, BlackBerry Balance and talked about keeping up with the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend with Mobile Fusion.
A BlackBerry App World with TV shows, movies, games and apps was shown off as well as a new browser which RIM says is the “best performing HTML5 browser in the world”. Heins calls all of this table stakes however, as he believes the key is in wowing consumers with the new BlackBerry 10 experience and expanding BlackBerry 10 into other industries such as the healthcare and automotive industries. He spoke about “paperless” hospitals, but didn’t divulge more on what part BlackBerry 10 would play.
RIM appears to be a different company under Heins. There’s a sense of candid introspection that permeates much of his interaction with the press at this year’s BlackBerry Jam Americas. With BlackBerry 10, Heins believes that RIM has a shot at solidifying a number three ecosystem spot — not exactly fighting words, instead a sentiment of sobriety, something which the RIM under Lazaridis and Balsillie was often accused of lacking. Heins said that RIM aspires to be number one, but that there are steps to climb.
RIM remains optimistic at making a strong play in the US with BlackBerry 10 as well as maintaining its foothold in Asia. When asked about the importance of emerging markets for RIM in its transition phase to BlackBerry 10, Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer at RIM, said that it will remain a strong focus with low, mid and high-tier BlackBerry 10 devices in the works. Heins also singled out South Africa as one of its strongest markets.
Heins called the one-CEO structure, “more efficient” and reported that the executive leadership changes are complete. He also reported that RIM is about 40% to 50% complete with its corporate overhaul with which it aims to cut operating expenses by more than $1-billion by the end of its fiscal year.
Talking about having chosen the route of sticking to its guns and owning the hardware, software and eco-system Heins said: “We took a hard decision to take the hard route. It [the response received from showing off BlackBerry 10] gives us confidence that we took the right route.”
There was no mention about the rumours of potentially licensing BlackBerry 10, but we were told that there would be more information on that at its earnings call on Thursday.