As Apple and Google are debating how divide the smartphone market among the two of them, and as Microsoft tries to figure out how to rain on their parade with Windows Phone 8, RIM is reminding us that they are not dead yet.
At the company's BlackBerry Jam developers conference, RIM gave developers an update about BB10, which carries the hope that RIM can return to old glory. The short news is that the OS is still very much in development and the key features are met with doubt and, in some instances, with the conclusion that RIM is building functionality no one needs.
BB10 will be presumably advertised on its new interface as well as anchor features such as BlackBerry Hub and BlackBerry Balance. The former is a new approach to integrate core BlackBerry applications such as Messenger (BBM) and Calendar. Balance is aimed squarely at the business world with the ability to support two user profiles - one for your private life and one for your business life.
The profiles are completely separate and even use separate ways to access RIM's application store. The big news for Calendar is that it now interfaces with social networks such as LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. BBM gets an interface described as "one-thumb navigation", which plays into the successful history of BlackBerry phones when they were especially useful when used with just one hand. BBM also got a dedicated emoticon key, if that is important for you.
Much of BB10 seems to be revealing how RIM is trying how to create a consumer/business devices from the perspective of a business user, while its competition has consumer devices that are moving into the business world. RIM believes that BB10 will be key for RIM to establish itself as the third-largest smartphone platform. BB10 needs to be much more disruptive and revolutionary than what the company offers today.