The best and worst moments from the Blackberry 10 launch, starting with RIM’s big name change
This morning, Research in Motion held simultaneous splashy events in New York, Toronto, London, Paris, Johannesburg and Dubai to launch the BlackBerry 10 operating system and associated phones—the ones analysts (and the dwindling ranks of BlackBerry fans) have spent most of the last year waiting to see. Below, we round up the best, worst and strangest parts of the day’s BlackBerry hoopla, including a surprise celebrity hire.
• Most long-overdue change: Early in his presentation, RIM CEO Thorsten Heins announced that the company has officially changed its name to BlackBerry, finally ending 14 years of two-name confusion. Apparently, the secret task force working on the renaming was called “Operation Supernova.”
• Most anti-climactic timing: The touchscreen Z10, the first of the BlackBerry 10 phones, comes out in the United Kingdom tomorrow and in Canada on February 5 (it will retail here for about $150 with a three-year contract). However, the phone won’t start competing in the U.S. market until March.
• Best excuse to get drunk: Several restaurants and pubs in Kitchener-Waterloo are offering drink specials for patrons with BlackBerrys, according to BlackBerry PR.
• Worst delivery: We already knew Heins is no great orator, but we were hoping for a little more pep for one of the most important presentations in the company’s history. He relied heavily on the teleprompter, tried to pump up the audience with a wheedling “come on,” and, after each new feature was introduced, he said in his trademark monotone, “This is good. This is really, really good.” (Still, Heins did sound touchingly sincere when he revealed that his year as RIM’s CEO has been “easily the most challenging year of my career to date.”)
• Worst place to get a haircut: One of the videos at the start of the launch featured BlackBerry superfans, including CrackBerry founder Kevin Michaluk, who had vowed not to cut his hair until BlackBerry 10’s release. After the video,
RIM BlackBerry employees hacked off his ponytail in the middle of the crowd.
• Worst re-use of an already awkward phrase: Heins was widely mocked for saying the company was “laser-focused” on bringing BlackBerry 10 to market. So why did Andrew MacLeod, BlackBerry’s managing director for Canada, use the same nerdy phrase during his opening remarks?
• Best reminder how much difference a year can make: RIM co-founder Mike Lazaridis was at the launch, but remained in the audience, out of the spotlight. It’s hard to believe that one short year ago, he and Balsillie were still the high-profile bosses.
• Weirdest gig: Alicia Keys was announced as the brand’s “Global Creative Director.” According to Keys, her job involves working with app designers, carriers, developers and even her colleagues in the entertainment business, although it wasn’t at all clear what that might actually mean. Still, for a company that has had trouble with the cool factor, she may be able to help out—her outfit was, by far, the most stylish thing about the event.