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Although executives have been providing a glimpse at some of BlackBerry 10’s new features for months, Heins will finally showcase a complete system at Wednesday’s event. Devices will go on sale soon after that. The exact date and prices are expected Wednesday.

Regardless of BlackBerry 10’s advances, though, the new system will face a key shortcoming: It won’t have as many apps written by outside companies and individuals as the iPhone and Android. RIM has said it plans to launch BlackBerry 10 with more than 70,000 apps, including those developed for RIM’s PlayBook tablet, first released in 2011. Even so, that’s just a tenth of what the iPhone and Android offer. Popular service such as Instagram and Netflix won’t have apps on BlackBerry 10.

Gillis said he’ll be looking to see when RIM releases a keyboard version of the new phone. The first BlackBerry 10 phone will have only a touch screen. RIM has said a physical keyboard version will be released soon after. He said a delay could alienate RIM’s 79 million subscribers.

“The No. 1 feature that they like is the physical keyboard,” Gillis said.