...an overhaul of the graphics, icons, home screen, and other UI elements and features, such as a WebKit tabbed browser for faster and more stable browsing. It also brought multi-touch support to the platform for actions like zooming.
"The lines between a business and consumer user have gone, and a company that wants to succeed within enterprise also needs to win consumers today,"--Roberta Cozza, Gartner.
BlackBerry OS 6 also baked social options into the platform for the first time (although apps were available on previous versions), and brought a universal search box for finding that specific email, message, song, person, or video you were looking for.Despite the features, neither the software nor hardware was enough to draw the spotlight back onto RIM.
"The lines between a business and consumer user have gone, and a company that wants to succeed within enterprise also needs to win consumers today. Not envisioning and not reacting fast to key consumer market shifts toward ecosystem/applications, touch designs, personal cloud, all contributed to favour the faster-paced competition, and produce for RIM this downward spiral where both consumer and enterprise segments are closely interrelated," Cozza said.
Nevertheless, while RIM might have been floundering and slow to respond to the new generation of touchscreen handsets, it was at least doing better than its rival Palm, which, despite having a strong software platform, was eventually bought by HP.
The current generation of BlackBerry handsets--such as the Bold 9900 and Torch 9850/9860--use the BlackBerry 7/7.1 OS released in 2011. It brought upgrades such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) 6, HTML5 video support, BlackBerry ID integration, faster browsing, better graphics, and voice-activated universal search.
Here comes BlackBerry 10
The new operating system includes a drastic overhaul of the UI, a dual-layered virtual keyboard that learns exactly where you hit each key and predicts which one you were intending to press, a new home screen with tiles, and hundreds of other changed or new features. Hands on-testing with a pre-beta build of the software quickly showed it to be more intuitive and user-friendly than previous, or current, generations of the BlackBerry OS.
RIM has aligned its software elements, BlackBerry 10, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10), Balance, and Mobile Fusion (albeit, without the name anymore) around this launch. It will need to resist future fragmentation of these platforms to ensure it has a good grounding to compete against the current leaders in the mobile market, iOS and Android. Like it or not, BlackBerry 10 is the foreseeable future for RIM smartphones and tablets.
Unlike its predecessors, it is based on a completely different Unix-like core OS called QNX. QNX was also used on RIM's only tablet, the PlayBook, the first version of which was introduced in 2011. The new OS was briefly called BBX, until RIM was promptly sued and changed the name to BlackBerry 10.
Although no handsets running the new OS are currently available, RIM has shown off the features on numerous occasions. On January 30, the first handsets will be officially announced and are expected to include touchscreen models and QWERTY-equipped handsets.