Note: See our updated post-launch story for final official specs and information from BlackBerry.
In 2007 the world was a different place. The Sonics were still in Seattle and BlackBerry was, thanks to its on-device message encryption and push-email, the mobile OS of choice for enterprise and power users. Then the 19th of June happened: Apple launched the original iPhone and suddenly smartphones with a physical keyboard looked like technology from a distant past. The following year Google joined the mobile bandwagon with Android and the rest is history.
Since then, despite RIM's attempt to get a foot into the touchcreen door with the Torch series, BlackBerry's market share has continuously been dropping. Even its last bastion seemed to crumble recently as more and more corporations and organisations adopt iOS as their preferred mobile OS and companies such as Samsung aggressively market Android as a tool for enterprise.
If we believe the message coming out of Toronto, these developments will be brought to a halt and turned around when BlackBerry, after several delays, will launch its long awaited BlackBerry 10 OS from New York, starting at 10 a.m. Eastern time on January 30.
In recent months the web has been swamped with official previews, unofficial leaks and all sorts of BB10 pre-launch rumors and information. RIM has clearly been doing a good job at fueling the expectations and there's a palpable sense of excitement in the mobile world about tomorrow's launch. Only consumers will decide if BB10 is going to be a success, but 2013 could potentially be a year of turnarounds with both the Sonics returning to Seattle and BlackBerry becoming relevant again in the mobile space.
We have sifted through all the information that has been made available so far, including the videos on BlackBerry's official YouTube channel, to give you an overview of what to expect from BB10.
Blackberry 10 devices
Leaked information suggests that BlackBerry 10 will launch with two devices. The rather sleek looking Z10 (pictured at the top of this page) will have a 4.2-inch 720p touchscreen and be powered by a 1.5 GHz dual-core processor. Images can be captured with an 8MP camera and LED-flash. 2GB RAM are accompanied by 16GB of storage space and an 1800mAh battery will supply the juice.
Less information is available about the X10, but the device is expected to have BlackBerry's signature physical keyboard and similar internal components to the Z10. Both devices are rumored to come with built-in NFC technology.
Building a large library of apps is crucial for any new mobile OS and while BlackBerry has been heavily promoting BlackBerry 10, they have also put a lot of money and effort into convincing app developers to adopt the new platform. BlackBerry 10 is rumored to launch with approximately 70,000 apps which would be the largest number of apps for a new OS at launch.
This has been achieved through incentivizing developers by offering an SDK for easy porting of existing apps and a $10,000 revenue guarantee in the first year for any app in the market. Qualifying apps need a BlackBerry quality certification and have to make at least $1,000 on their own, then RIM pays the difference if a $10K turnover is not achieved by the end of year one.
Additonally, the BlackBerry App Store has been rebranded as the BlackBerry App World and now, in line with Apple's iTunes and the Google Play Store, also includes music, movies and TV shows to give users the full media experience.
For us at Dpreview Connect the camera app is the most interesting piece of software on any new device. At this point not too much is known about the BlackBerry 10 camera app but we've had a preview of the time-shift feature, which allows you to forward and reverse a couple of seconds or so to make sure you get the frame you want. This looks like a useful feature for ensuring everyone's got their eyes open in group shots.
Other than that, it appears the app has no dedicated shutter button, instead you can capture a frame by tapping anywhere on the screen. There are also options to add filters and frames among other effects. So far the BlackBerry 10 camera features don't look specifically out of the ordinary, but we're looking foward to get our hands on the new hardware and putting it through our testing procedures.
BlackBerry Balance is a function that lets you easily switch between personal and work profiles on your phone. In work mode you can have a different wallpaper and apps and even the BlackBerry App World can be customized by enterprises and offer company-specific apps for employees only. After work you can switch to personal mode and you get all your favorite games and apps on the home screen. This looks like a very useful feature if you use the same phone for work and pleasure.
What was previously known as the BlackBerry's unified inbox has been developed into the BlackBerry Hub. This is the new system's real-time messaging and communications center which combines email, BlackBerry messages, tweets, Facebook messages, appointments and more.
In addition, BlackBerry Hub allows for easy switching from one app to another by swiping open a kind of task bar on the left side of the screen.
Follow Lars Rehm on Twitter @larsrehm