Published January 31, 2013
Its official name has been Research in Motion, but you likely know it by its more common name: Blackberry.
Now it’s officially Blackberry.
The company name change was symbolic of Wednesday’s make-or-break day in the company’s history as it unveiled its latest smartphone.
“Now there is one consistent brand that is recognized around the world,” said Thorsten Heins, the company’s CEO.
Actually, Blackberry introduced its two latest devices. The Z10 features a full touch screen, 4.2-inch display and has a 356-per-inch pixel density, making it competitive with the iPhone5.
The other new model, the Q10, features a full keyboard, similar to older BlackBerry devices. The new operating system is positioned to rival iOS and Android when performing multiple tasks simultaneously.
“Innovation is at the heart of BlackBerry,” Heins said, noting that consumers can now share, consume, create and act in a simple swipe motion with one hand via BlackBerry Flow.
In addition, the new models strengthen instant messaging by providing a video chat option.
Another new feature is BlackBerry Balance, which allows two identities in the same unit, separating professional and personal usage.
The company also wants to tap into the persuasive power of celebrity backing. At the event, singer-actress-mogul Alicia Keys was introduced as BlackBerry’s Global Creative Director.
As it looks to rebound to top-tier status in the mobile market, Blackberry is looking toward the Latino community as a potential goldmine.
Latinos are more likely to regularly use several new mobile devices than other ethnic groups. Plus, 19 percent of Hispanic adults use a Blackberry, compared to 14 percent for the overall adult population.
“Hispanics have always been early adapters,” said Rosa Alonso of Mi Vida Tec – with Rosa Alonso.“
For one tech observer, the new phone launch gives Blackberry a decent chance to regain power player status.
Joe Farrell, executive vice-president of operations for BiTE interactive, called the launch “a major, and much needed overhaul for the one-time smartphone leader and all indications are that it has, at the very least, succeeded in convincing Americans to give BlackBerry a second look."
The new features will likely capture the interest of Android and iOS owners, but it remains to be seen how large of a dent Blackberry can make it convincing them to switch.
"BlackBerry's challenge is compounded by the fact that Google and Apple have already built up huge mobile user bases who, for the most part, have invested lots of time and money learning and using their platform of choice,” Farrell said.
Alonso disagreed, arguing that BlackBerry’s efforts are too little too late. The company has a better chance in winning new Hispanic phone users than getting current ones using other platforms to give Blackberry a try now.
“Latinos, as has the general market of early adopters, have moved to new and relevant platforms, like Android and iOS,” Alonso said.
“BlackBerry has lost its dominant business position and has a great amount of catching up to do. With the new handsets it will be exciting to watch if BlackBerry will close the gap.”
The new BlackBerrys will be available in the U.S. in March on Verizon, AT&T, Sprint, and T-Mobile and will retail for $199 with a carrier contract or $599 without a contract.