Research In Motion says that the first of its new BlackBerry 10 devices will not have a physical keyboard. The company is going the touchscreen direction, at least initially, at fans of the physical keyboard will have to wait until more BlackBerry 10 devices are released down the line.
According to spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger, BlackBerry 10 will be available on devices with physical keyboards down “in the future.”
The first round of new phones is expected to hit stores by the end of this year, but there’s still no specific date – probably because RIM doesn’t know if they’ll make the deadline or not.
Last Thursday, RIM took its BlackBerry 10 prototype to developers in Toronto to generate interest in app development. The Waterloo company held a day-long event, part of the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour (get it, Blackberry Jam?). The tour was most recently in New York and is venturing to different markets throughout the summer.
RIM is really hedging its bets on BlackBerry 10 and the dropping of the physical keyboard, at least initially, could be a big risk. On recent advertisements, RIM has really played up the use of its keyboard for answering “thousands of emails a day.” One has to wonder how this news will impact business users who simply can’t rely on a touchscreen to answer and address a large amount of emails and messages.
Putting on an optimistic hat for a moment, if RIM can generate enough interest from app developers in BlackBerry 10, it’s possible that the company could turn things around somewhat. The round of recent job cuts – and the upcoming job cuts – is painful, as always, but they could be the best possible step forward.
There’s also the recent report from The Sunday Times that asserts RIM’s possible plan to split its business in two, slicing its messaging service apart from its handset business. The handset business, the report said, could be sold off or simply made into a separately listed company. Rumoured buyers include Amazon and Facebook, although conflicting reports have emerged to suggest that the Sunday Times report is nonsense.
If these changes take place and RIM can get some help, perhaps even if it slices off a stake and sells it to someone like Microsoft, it’s possible that the company won’t fade into oblivion. But it’s going to take a lot of manoeuvering and there are no easy fixes to a problem that continues to deepen its impact on Canada’s telecommunications landscape.