NEW YORK (AP) — After lengthy delays, Research In Motion Ltd. is unveiling its first phones with the new BlackBerry 10 system. RIM redesigned the system to embrace the multimedia, apps and touch-screen experience prevalent today. The question is whether there's time for the once-pioneering BlackBerry to catch up to Apple's trend-setting iPhone and devices running Google's Android system.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins is hosting the main event in New York. Video of his appearance is being shown at other RIM events in Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, New Delhi and Jakarta, Indonesia.
RIM initially said BlackBerry 10 would come by early 2012, but then the company changed that to late 2012. A few months later, that date was pushed further, to early 2013, missing the lucrative holiday season. The holdup helped wipe out more than $70 billion in shareholder wealth and 5,000 jobs.
RIM had shown off prototypes and previews before. Wednesday's event is the first time RIM is showing a complete product, with details on prices and availability.
Most analysts consider a BlackBerry 10 success to be crucial for the company's long-term viability.
RIM is promising a speedier device, a superb typing experience and the ability to keep work and personal identities separate on the same phone. Previews of the BlackBerry 10 software have gotten favorable reviews on blogs. Financial analysts are starting to see some slight room for a comeback. With smartphone sales growing, the BlackBerry 10 can succeed without iPhone and Android users switching.
Regardless of BlackBerry 10's advances, though, the new system will face a key shortcoming: It won't have as many apps written by outside companies and individuals as the iPhone and Android.
Here's a running account of the BlackBerry 10 event, presented in reverse chronological order. All times are EST. Besides Heins, presenters include Alec Saunders, vice president of developer relations.
Heins introduces two new phones — the Z10 and the Q10. The Q10 has a physical keyboard, a feature that has kept BlackBerry users loyal over the years. The Z10 will have only a touch-screen keyboard.
Heins says, "''we know there is a lot of physical keyboard lovers out there."
Heins says the company will change its name to BlackBerry in order to maintain one brand and one promise.
Heins says the new BlackBerry is being built for people who are "hyper-connected socially." He says it's aimed at people who need balance in their personal and professional lives. Heins made similar remarks when he previewed the BlackBerry 10 at a September speech in San Jose, Calif.
Heins thanks RIM founder Mike Lazaridis and long-time executive Jim Balsillie, who were co-CEOs until Heins took over the helm a year ago. Lazaridis is in the audience in New York and stands up.
Heins, who became RIM's CEO last January, says "It has been easily the most challenging year of my career to date." He thanks employees and proclaims, "BlackBerry 10 is here." But he says the launch is just the beginning.
Heins appears on stage.
Saunders touts the amount of work done by RIM's outside developers. He says BlackBerry 10 is launching with the largest-ever catalog of apps for a new phone operating system.
RIM has said it plans to launch BlackBerry 10 with more than 70,000 apps, including those developed for RIM's PlayBook tablet, first released in 2011. Even so, that's just a tenth of what the iPhone and Android offer. Popular service such as Instagram and Netflix won't have apps on BlackBerry 10.
The event in New York begins with a look at BlackBerry 10 events elsewhere through videoconferencing. Customer testimonials follow.
Several hundred people await the start of the event, which is being held in a large warehouse-like entertainment venue on the shore of New York's East River.