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Blackberry has unveiled its first entirely touchscreen smartphone, in a desperate attempt to rival the iPhone and revive its flagging sales. The company, once the brand of choice for business customers, has struggled in recent years to compete against Apple and other rivals such as the Samsung Galaxy. Its market share has dropped dramatically from 41 per cent in 2007, the year the iPhone was launched, to just 4 per cent in the first quarter of last year. But the firm says the new model, the Z10, has been ‘reinvented’ and offers much better internet, music, camera and email facilities.
The phone goes on sale in the UK first, from today. It will cost from £36 a month on a contract – the same as the 16GB version of the iPhone 5. It also resembles the iPhone physically, with a large touchscreen. It has a new operating system, the BlackBerry 10, and its makers say the phone is aimed at ‘the true multitasker’. The Z10 device has a touch screen but no ‘middle button’ while the Q10 has a Qwerty keyboard for ‘the best typing experience on smartphone’.
Chief executive Thorsten Heins, who also announced that the firm is changing its name from RIM to BlackBerry, said: ‘We have been on a journey of transformation… We intend to lead the move from mobile communication to mobile computing.’ But the handset maker was immediately accused of ‘copying’ the iPhone’s design and software with its BB10 operating system. Twitter users led the complaints, with comments ranging from ‘ripoff’ to ‘carbon copy’, while other said the handsets bore a ‘striking resemblance’ to each other. Launching the two handsets in New York, Mr Heins said: ‘It’s been one year since I was handed the reins, and it has been challenging, but exhilarating,’ said Mr Heins.
‘Now, finally, here we are – Blackberry 10 is here’ But the shares fell 5 per cent as the Canadian announced it was changing its name to BlackBerry from Research In Motion, and by the conclusion of the launch the shares were down 7 per cent. But the firm insisted it could turn around its struggling fortunes – even revealing that it had signed up musician Alicia Keys as its ‘global creative director’. ‘Alicia Keys has come to BlackBerry because she believes in the product and technology, and subscribes to our overriding philosophy to ‘Keep Moving’: to empower people through mobile computing and communications,’ said Mr Heins. In the UK, the handset will be free on tariffs starting at £36 per month from Carphone Warehouse. The handsets do not have a home button, instead using a user’s thumb to ‘flick’ across the screen.
It also has a new ‘peek’ feature that allows owners to see their email and other messages from anywhere in the phone’s menu system by swiping from the left of the screen. The firm also said it had worked to create the ‘best typing experience’ of any handset. It also boasts a new feature called balance to switch between a personal and business mode – each with its own applications, wallpaper and settings. ‘People run around with two phones, a private one and a personal one,’ said Mr Heins. ‘We wanted to address that, and people can switch with a single flick.’
He said the new handsets were for ‘people who are hyper-connected socially, who need balance in both personal and professional lives. ‘People who want to flow, who don’t want a home button. Blackberry 10 will keep them moving.’ Another new feature called ‘active frames’ allows people to have several apps open at once, and easily. – Dailymail