BlackBerry 10 Kicked Off with New Z10 and Q10

Shortly after renaming itself BlackBerry from RIM or Research In Motion, the company's make-or-break press-event held simultaneously in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, and Johannesburg, went underway. The company began by announcing the new BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, which is designed from the ground up, with the idea of streamlining everyday collaboration that's heavily web-based. BlackBerry calls it re-designed, re-engineered, and re-invented.

At the center of the new platform is BlackBerry Hub, a multi-service collaboration tool, which streamlines contacts and social content from across several services, and integrates them chronologically, and in order of relevance. This content could be everything from catching up with updates from your friends, co-workers, or project partners, or pulling up publicly available information about people you're scheduled to meet with, without switching apps. The Hub is always accessible from any app, so social actions related to the app could be performed.

BlackBerry built its empire around devices that are predominantly button-based, in-fact taking things further from a number pad to a QWERTY keypad that people can collaborate better with; naturally then, it had to take a re-look at user-interface (UI) with the onset of touch-based platforms. With BlackBerry 10, the company introduced Flow, a UI that streamlines actions and controls by sensing what you're trying to do (eg: composing an email with complex content and attachments, making a video presentation, etc.)

Ahead of its launch, BlackBerry claimed it would better other platforms, including third-party on-screen keyboard replacement software at designing one. The on-screen keyboard that ships with BlackBerry 10 not only allows you to swipe your fingers through keys to type words, but also throws up word suggestions on the keyboard, so you could simply drag-and-drop words into the text field. In principle, the keyboard should make it faster to type than even with a physical keypad.

BlackBerry Messenger 10 (or BBM 10) has been in the news for quite some time now. The company's flagship collaboration tool, gets voice and video calling features, with the ability to share screens between two devices (think remote desktop).

BlackBerry Balance is an elegant solution to today's growing BYOD (bring you own device) policy, and the security nightmare it presents to CIOs. Balance sorts out applications, files, and services tied to your organization, and those which are your own (personal files, pictures, music); letting your organization control access to a part of your device as long as your're associated with it; while you retain control over data and applications that you own. Switching between work and personal modes is as easy as sliding and swiping between two tabs to reveal two unique home-screens.

BlackBerry Remember lets you combine quick and moving bits of information (memos, notes, pictures, contacts) that you quickly jot down, into one place, so you could later process and organize it. It cuts down time needed to launch various apps, create data files, to do the same.

Lastly there's BlackBerry World, a renewed and refreshed storefront that's akin to market contemporary in delivering what the company claims to be over 70,000 applications, and content (movies, music, TV shows) from over 8 major studios in the US, and growing. According to the company all the apps most people are likely to install on buying a new smartphone are already on the storefront.

BlackBerry Z10 is one device that has been turning the rumor mill for over an year now. It's BlackBerry trying to keep up with the torrent of monolithic devices with touchscreens spanning almost an entire side, with little or no buttons. It features a 4.3-inch screen surrounded by a gloss+matte black frame, and a carbon fiber patterned back. The BlackBerry Q10, on the other hand, is the form-factor that the company grew off on, only this time it's a combination of the same touch-intensive BlackBerry 10 software running on a touchscreen, with a physical QWERTY keypad BlackBerry users are familiar with. In essence, BlackBerry avoided both situations where it's abandoned the physical keypad form-factor, or one in which it forgot to go all-touchscreen.

Both the Z10 and Q10 feature a 1.50 GHz dual-core processor, 2 GB of RAM, 16 GB of internal storage that's expandable, >300 ppi pixel-density screens, and connectivity that includes world-ready 4G LTE, 802.11 b/g/n, Bluetooth 4.0, NFC, and replaceable batteries, so you can always keep a few emergency replacements in crunch-time.

Both devices will launch tied to carriers and contract-free in select markets, in a global launch schedule that starts today, running up to the end of February. Prices vary greatly by carrier plans and markets.