BlackBerry 10 launch: world gets a glimpse of RIM's 'reinvention'

Take our poll: The Z10 model will be available on February 10 for Dh2,599, as RIM awaits UAE authorisation for BBM Voice feature.

The world finally got a glimpse of the new BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system from Research In Motion tonight.

The Canadian company also revealed that it would now be known as BlackBerry as part of its comeback plan.

Dubai was one of six destinations chosen for the global launch of the new platform, and two new devices that the company hopes will save its future against rivals such as Samsung and Apple.

"This is a very significant event in the company's history,"said Robert Bose, the managing director of RIM Middle East and Africa. "What we are launching is a redesigned, reengineered platform. It really is the era of mobile computing. "We are very happy this is being done here in Dubai, it shows the significance of the Middle East to our business."

It has been one of the most highly anticipated technology launches of recent years, but it remains to be seen whether BB10 will help RIM claw back market share, especially since the Chinese telecoms vendor Huawei now claims the third spot in global smartphone sales, according to new figures from IDC.

Most analysts consider the success of BB10 to be crucial for RIM's long-term viability, although doubts remain about the ability of the new operating system to help it back from the brink, especially with fewer apps when compared with Google's Android and Apple's iOS.

RIM boasts 70,000 apps in its new BlackBerry store, but major players such as WhatsApp and Skype are currently missing, but have committed to creating an app for BB10.

"RIM is now relying on its BB10 platform, which it has developed from scratch to regain consumer confidence in its brand. The success, or otherwise, of the first device powered by the new platform will determine RIM's future," said Malik Saadi, the principal analyst at Informa Telecoms and Media.

Mr Bose described BB10 as a "reinvention of BlackBerry", with new features that include BlackBerry Flow, which make use of simple gestures to switch seamlessly between different applications instead of carrying out commands through the old menu and back buttons.

BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) has been a unique selling pointfor the company's devices, enabling users to message one another for free. But with the likes of cross-platform messaging apps such as WhatsApp and Viber now taking hold, the appeal has diminished. BBM Voice and Video, an upgraded version of the messenger that incorporates free voice and video calls, has been introduced with the new platform, although it may face restrictions in a number of markets where such services are restricted.

In the UAE, RIM is awaiting authorisation from the Telecoms Regulatory Authority for BBM Voice.

"We are working with our carrier partners to bring all the enhanced experience to users here," said Mr Bose.

The company's two new phones are the Z10, a full touchscreen device which will be available on February 10 for Dh2,599 (US$707); and the Q10, which sports the traditional qwerty keyboard and will be available in the second quarter of this year.