BlackBerry 10 launch event scorecard

The company formerly known as RIM held its big BlackBerry 10 launch in New York City this morning to great fanfare. How well did the happenings at the event meet the company's needs?
Written by James Kendrick, Contributor

It's no secret that RIM, er, BlackBerry has been on life support for a while with plummeting market share. The company has been open in admitting that the new BlackBerry 10 operating system and new phones must be good enough to revive the flagging company.

BB10 Z10
(Credit: CBS Interactive)

A recent article outlined what BlackBerry needed to do at this important launch event to have a chance of hitting the ground running. Let's see how well the event met those suggested guidelines.

1. Use the new phone(s) to show off the BlackBerry 10 OS

BlackBerry gets high marks for the in-depth demonstration of the key features of the new Z10 running BlackBerry 10. The hands-on demonstration moved along at a nice pace and clearly showed why each new feature of BB10 is a good improvement over previous BlackBerrys.

The new touch interface was operated with a single thumb and shown to put all major functions just a swipe or two away. The predictive keyboard as demonstrated looked to be the best on any mobile platform.

The useful Message Hub was glossed over at the event but still shown to be a decent unified message center.

Sadly, no major apps were demonstrated first-hand so it's not clear exactly what apps might be available when the phones are actually available to buy. It was hinted that Twitter and Facebook apps would be out when the new phones hit the market, but no apps were shown running today.

Event score: Partial success (no apps were shown).

2. Show a new BlackBerry with a large display

It wasn't expected to see a large display BlackBerry make an appearance, and none was shown. The 4.2-inch display of the Z10 is a nice size but as suggested in the earlier article it would have been helpful for BlackBerry to show it was working on a big handset. We'll have to wait and see if the company eventually produces one of these big phones.

Event score: Fail.

3. Give a hard shipping date not long after the event

Providing a shipping date for major markets, and one in the near future, was suggested to be a vital element of the launch event. Unfortunately, that was only given for Canada (BlackBerry's home country) and a couple other countries.

While support for BlackBerry 10 by all four major US carriers was announced, availability dates for phones were not given other than "in March." This lost a lot of points as the US market is vital to BlackBerry 10's success and a lot of the buzz created by today's event will be a memory by the time people can actually buy them.

All shipping dates mentioned were for the touchscreen-packing Z10 phone. The Q10 with the physical QWERTY keyboard will only be available "in April."

Event score: Fail.

4. Launch on major carriers on day one

As stated in the previous category, the company failed to have hard shipping dates for most of the world at today's event. A big win would have been had the new phones actually been available today but the only folks getting one today were the press reps at the event. They were all given a free Z10 BlackBerry.

No dates of availability were given for any of the four US carriers that will carry the new phones. No pricing information was made available for any market outside of Canada, where a $149 purchase of a Z10 will be possible on February 5 with a long three-year contract.

Event score: Fail.

5. Forget tablets

It was clearly stated that BlackBerry needed to concentrate solely on phones today to not dilute the BlackBerry 10 message. BlackBerry obviously realized this too and the PlayBook was not a topic at today's launch event. PlayBooks were used for journalists to check into the event, but silently.

Execs stated during the Q&A after the event that all PlayBooks in customers' hands would eventually be updated to BlackBerry 10.

Event score: Success.

6. Consumers first but don't forget the enterprise

BlackBerry did a good job at the event showing why the new phones were good for both the consumer and the enterprise. The new BlackBerry Balance feature in the OS makes it a simple gesture to switch the phone from work to play modes.

The new OS makes it easy to keep corporate data separate from private consumer data for BYOD cases, and this was discussed at length. The demonstrations made it obvious that BB10 is looking to embrace the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement underway.

Event score: Success.

7. Build the buzz

BlackBerry did a decent job creating a buzz for BB10 and the new Z10/Q10 phones. Hopefully much of that won't be lost by the time the phones are actually available for purchase.

The "hiring" of artist Alicia Keys for the position of Global Creativity Director at BlackBerry was obviously aimed at creating buzz. Unfortunately, it seemed a little hokey to this writer.

Event score: Middle of the road.

How'd BlackBerry do?

Overall the launch event was pretty well done, with demonstrations showing the phones to good effect. The new OS generated a few "wow" moments, although not as many as needed to make this a rousing success.

Based on the launch it's clear that BlackBerry is back in full force, but not if that's going to be enough to save the company. As the scores in this evaluation reflect, it's about 50/50 if the event created enough excitement to carry the new BlackBerry into the future.

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