Research In Motion Ltd. has designed the first two phones running the new BlackBerry 10 software. The Z10 came out in the U.K. last week and Canada on Tuesday, but it won’t go on sale in the U.S. until mid-March. It will have a touch-screen keyboard. A model with a physical keyboard, the Q10, will not be available until later, further delaying a long-overdue makeover for the Canadian company and its once-pioneering product.
RIM previously announced delays to its upcoming BlackBerry 10 system, which the company considers crucial to its future. The delay means the phones missed the holiday shopping season and come months after the launch of a new iPhone. The delay could make it even harder for RIM to regain market share lost to Apple’s iPhone and devices running Google’s Android operating software.
Here’s a look at developments surrounding the BlackBerry 10 in recent months:
Oct. 18, 2011: RIM unveils a new operating system, combining existing BlackBerry elements with RIM’s previously announced QNX operating system for phones and tablet computers.
Dec. 6: RIM says “BlackBerry 10” will be the new name for its next-generation system after the company loses a trademark ruling on its previous name, BBX.
Dec. 15: RIM says new phones running BlackBerry 10 won’t be out until late 2012, instead of early 2012 as previously expected. The company says the phones will need a highly integrated chipset that won’t be available until mid-2012, so the company can now expect the new phones to ship late in the year.
May 1, 2012: RIM unveils a newly designed smartphone prototype powered by BlackBerry 10. The prototype BlackBerry has a touch screen, but no physical keyboard like most BlackBerry models. No update is given on the new system’s launch date.
May 2: Company stresses that while the prototype has no physical keyboard, RIM will continue to make some models with one.
June 21: Company says the first BlackBerry device running BlackBerry 10 will not have a physical keyboard, only a touch-screen one. Ones with hard keyboards will eventually be made, but the company declines to say when.
June 28: RIM says it’s delaying the launch of BlackBerry 10 yet again, to the first quarter of next year. CEO Thorsten Heins says RIM’s top priority is a successful launch of the new BlackBerrys. He adds, “I will not deliver a product to the market that is not ready to meet the needs of our customers. There will be no compromise on this issue.”
July 10: At its annual shareholders meeting, Heins asks disgruntled investors for patience as it develops BlackBerry 10. He says the product’s quality is more important than rushing out the software, and he argues that some telecom carriers prefer a 2013 launch because next-generation wireless networks will be more widely operational by then.
Aug. 23: RIM says it has begun showing its new BlackBerry smartphones to wireless carriers around the world, but it remains “months and months” away from starting to sell them. The company says feedback from those carriers has been positive, and it will begin to discuss product launches and other business aspects with the carriers soon.
Sept. 25: Heins promises to restore the BlackBerry phone’s stature as a trailblazing device even as many investors fret about its potential demise. Heins speaks at a conference for mobile applications developers to rally support for BlackBerry 10.
Oct. 31: RIM says its BlackBerry 10 smartphones are now being tested by 50 wireless carriers around the world. The company calls it a key step.
Nov. 12: RIM says it will hold an official launch event for BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Jan. 30.
Nov. 13: RIM says the phones will be released “not too long” after the launch event.
Nov. 29: RIM’s stock rises after Goldman Sachs upgraded the company’s shares, saying there’s a “30 percent chance” that BlackBerry 10 smartphones will be a success.
Dec. 13: RIM says the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency will launch a pilot program with its smartphones using BlackBerry 10.
Jan. 30, 2013: RIM kicks off new BlackBerry 10 with events in New York and elsewhere. It unveils the first two phones _ the Z10, with a touch-screen keyboard, and the Q10, with a physical keyboard as well. RIM also says it will change the company’s name to BlackBerry.
Jan. 31: The Z10 model goes on sale in the U.K.
Monday: RIM’s CEO says early signs show that sales in the U.K. are strong, with many buyers switching from other systems rather than upgrading from older BlackBerrys. He narrows Z10 launch in the U.S. to mid-March and says the Q10 model might not be available in the U.S. for another eight to 10 weeks, even though some wireless providers elsewhere should get it in April.
Tuesday: The Z10 model goes on sale in Canada.
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