RIM banking on BlackBerry Balance, HTML5, BYOD trend

RIM is hoping to get back in the game with consumers by relying on its business-friendly device strength.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor
Credit: Jessica Dolcourt, CNET

Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins asserted that BlackBerry 10 is the phone maker's "most important launch ever" while speaking to developers at BlackBerry Jam Americas in San Jose -- and he couldn't be more right.

See also on CNET: BlackBerry 10 OS: A closer look at messenger, navigation

Needless to say, RIM needs BlackBerry 10 to not only work, but to be a smash hit.

Based on Heins's keynote address on Tuesday morning, it looks like RIM is banking on several things to make BlackBerry 10 a success.

For starters, RIM has made some follies in the consumer market before, but the Canadian mobile device company is trying again from a different approach thanks to the BYOD (bring your own device) trend.

Relying on its strength and reputation for building relatively the most secure mobile phones, Heins touched on BlackBerry Balance, a rather ignored feature that really has renewed meaning as more people want to be able to use their personal devices for work purposes too being that it can separate and encrypt professional data.

"People want to be productive on the go. We've got that," Heins asserted, adding that information protection and privacy are "absolutely essential as more people put sensitive information on their devices."

Thus, Heins continued that BlackBerry 10 has been about including and building upon the "recognizable traits" about the BlackBerry mobile operating system, which he cited as balance and enterprise service. He argued further that these two things matter because BYOD is a reality, and while "CIOs have embraced it," it's still a headache that hasn't been resolved succinctly.

Other familiar BlackBerry features include the keyboard, as Heins boasted that BlackBerry has "always been famous for keyboard performance," adding that BlackBerry 10 will be taking "predictive text to a whole new level, way beyond any dictionary" or other predictive text technology currently available.

But based on the demo during the keynote, the look and feel of BlackBerry 10 is a considerable departure from previous versions of the platform.

"BlackBerry 10 represents a shift to true mobile computing," Heins said. "That's why we've built the whole platform on a new architecture."

Based on the home screen alone, the approach is different without looking awkward or unusual. (Although at first glance, it does look a bit like Windows Phone 7 and Android had a kid of their own.)

Additional unique features that will appear on BlackBerry 10 include a hub that is supposed to make it easier and quicker to move through tasks and BlackBerry Flow for "total integration" of the user experience across all apps.

Furthermore, being that the debate between building for HTML5 vs. iOS/Android native apps is heated enough without throwing other mobile platforms in the mix, RIM's best shot is banking on the side of HTML5. Heins cited that the BlackBerry 10 browser has been a priority, and that it has "the best score in the industry, better than any desktop browser."

Heins admitted that the BlackBerry platform "was not always easy to develop for," so RIM has been committed to building an entirely new and flexible OS.

"We're making believers out of people who wrote BlackBerry off," he remarked.

Still, not everyone must have written BlackBerry off as Heins cited that the customer base has grown to approximately 80 million users -- up from 78 million at the end of Q2 FY2012.

Heins reiterated that BlackBerry 10 development is on track for carrier testing in October with a launch planned for the first quarter of calendar 2013.

UPDATE: RIM has alerted us that there was a typo in the company's memo this morning. The user base is up from 78 million reported last quarter, not Q2 FY2012. RIM reports Q3 FY2013 results later this week.

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