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January 31, 2013

RIM Unveils BlackBerry 10 Devices, Announces Company Name Change

Pop Singer Alicia Keys Takes on Roll Global Creative Director

The touchscreen BlackBerry Z10 and the more traditional BlackBerry Q10.

Redesigned, re-engineered and re-invented.

Those were the words Research In Motion CEO Thorsten Heins used to describe the firm’s long-awaited BlackBerry 10 devices unveiled Jan. 30.

Heins also announced RIM will now operate under the name BlackBerry in honor of the new products which the company firmly believes will bring prosperity back to the Canadian firm.

“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry,” Heins said during the official launch in New York. “It is one brand. It is one promise.”

The BlackBerry Z10 — which will launch in Canada and the U.K. next week, but not until March in the U.S. — was the focus of the event with its touchscreen technology. Pricing will vary depending on the carrier, but the Z10 will retail for roughly $150 on a three-year contract in Canada and about $200 for a two-year contract in the U.S.

The Z10 is an obvious bid by BlackBerry to appeal to new consumers — those who are used to iPhones or Android-operated Smartphones.

The new device features a faster browser so “whatever you do, you are only one swipe away from all of your activities” and a 4.2-inch screen that offers a “cinematic experience,” Heins said.

It also boasts a smart camera and a large app library that includes services such as Skype and the ever-popular Angry Birds game. The Z10 is available in black or white.

The Q10, which played second fiddle to its flashier cousin at the event, is a more traditional looking BlackBerry complete with a Qwerty keyboard that offers “the absolute best typing experience in the industry,” Heins said. It is to launch in the U.S. in April

“We know there are a lot of keyboard lovers out there,” Heins said. “We heard you loud and clear.”

Key points of the BlackBerry 10 platform are:

• BlackBerry Hub — a single place to manage all conversations whether personal or work in e-mail, BBM messages, social media updates or notifications.

• BlackBerry Flow — enables features and apps to “flow seamlessly” together, helping the user complete the task at hand. “For example, you can tap on an attendee listed for a meeting to see their latest tweet or LinkedIn profile,” a BlackBerry press release reads. “Or tap the thumbnail of a picture you just took to launch the Picture editor and quickly apply a transformation or filter, then instantly share it with your contacts.”

• BlackBerry Balance — technology that separates and secures work applications and data from personal content on BlackBerry devices.

Heins ended the glitzy presentation with an announcement sure to lend BlackBerry the cool factor it has been lacking since its inception.

Grammy-winning pop singer Alicia Keys has become the new face of BlackBerry as the company’s global creative director.

Keys, who joined Heins on stage during the launch event, said she will be working with closely with the app designers, content creators, retailers and carriers to “really explore this BlackBerry 10 platform and create ideas for its future.”

Keys said she hoped to enhance the notion of having one’s work life and personal life all together in one device.

“I want to bridge the gap between the work phone and the play phone,” she said.

Keys, a longtime BlackBerry user, admitted to “breaking up” with the device in favor of a handset with more bling.

“But I always missed the way you organized my life and the way you were there for me at my job,” she said, comparing her use of BlackBerry devices to a romantic relationship.

“So I started to have two phones, I was kind of playing the field. But then you called … you told me you had added a lot more features, a new platform, you had got a lot faster. All of that was true. And now we are exclusively dating again and I am very happy.”

It was not all good news for BlackBerry, however.

Following the launch, the company’s stock took a more than $2 nosedive from a little more than $16 in the morning to less than $14 per share by afternoon. It is thought the dip is due to investor disappointment over the late release date of the new BlackBerry handsets. It was expected both would be launched in the U.S. early next month.