Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) CEO Thorsten Heins will be showing off nearly finished "beta" versions of BlackBerry 10 devices to wireless carriers in the coming weeks as part of a crucial sales effort aimed at getting the operators to back the new platform.
In an interview with the Wall Street Journal--part of a media blitz Heins has been on this week to drum up interest in BlackBerry 10--the RIM chief said that the company will show two beta phones running its new operating system to carriers during a five-week road trip. He said he remains confident that RIM will roll out the new smartphones in early 2013.
Interestingly, Heins said that RIM will essentially have a "one-two punch" with two classes of devices: one that is an all-touch experience and one that has RIM's classic Qwerty keyboard. Within those two types, RIM will offer three different devices, a high-end device, a mid-tier device and a low-end device, for six total. Heins had said in July the company would release four BlackBerry 10 devices early next year. All of the devices will support LTE, but Heins did not reveal price points, according to AllThingsD.
Heins said the software is going through the final stages of "polishing," according to AllThingsD, but that the platform is essentially complete. "We're near the finishing line," he said.
One of the key new features in BB10 is what RIM has dubbed "BlackBerry Flow," which gives users the ability to move through a "flow" of applications as "glanceable" information feeds. A gesture on the side of the screen brings up notifications, and users can seamlessly move from application to application via gestures. A gesture allows users to stay within an app but go into the next screen within that app (a message in an email inbox, for example). The user interface appears to be based on the Cascade UI from The Astonishing Tribe, which RIM bought in December 2010.
The sales push from Heins comes at a critical juncture for RIM. Gartner reported this week that its share of the smartphone market in the second quarter slid to 5.2 percent, down from 11.7 percent in the year-ago period. The push also comes as Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT) and its partners gear up for the launch of Windows Phone 8 this fall. Apple too is expected to soon release its next iPhone.
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