The show is winding down in Orlando and the general tone here is good. It seems that there were some who were cynical about BlackBerry 10 but everyone I've talked to here is optimistic about it. I mentioned to a few people that "it's certainly better than what they have now" and I was immediately met with strong nods of agreement. That's the general consensus right now. Of course, there are some who are extremely excited about the new OS, as they should be (it looks great), but even for those of us who are a little more cautious, the small glimpses we've seen have been promising. Check out yesterday's recap article to see a quick overview of BlackBerry 10.
Today, the morning started out with a press session and Q&A with RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. This is a big deal. Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, the former Co-CEOs of RIM, were not very personable with the press. In fact, many bloggers here have commented that a formal Q&A is something that they never would have done. Conversely, Thorsten was open and honest. He talked about what RIM was doing wrong and why it was wrong. He mentioned that RIM was simply trying to do too much, saying, "We have a little fat on our hips and we need to become a lean, mean hunting machine." The topic was nested on being focused, laser-focused, in fact, on the projects and audience that mattered. Instead of trying to please everyone and provide features that everyone will want, they need to focus on what they're good at and what their target audience is. What does this mean? "We will be focusing on enterprise because that matters. That's where BlackBerrys live best", said Thorsten in answer to a press question, "I just want to be number one in mobile enterprise." Now, this doesn't mean that future BlackBerry 10 devices will not have consumer-friendly FEATURES like gaming, multimedia, maps, etc. RIM had plenty of demos of those kinds of apps in yesterday's General Session. In fact, after emphasizing that the objective of RIM and BlackBerry is to help people succeed, Thorsten posed the question, "How do we make it attractive and fun?" What Thorsten meant by those statements is that RIM will not be focusing on creating those experiences. Instead they have partnered with companies who specialize in those areas and will let them bring their designs to BlackBerry 10.
Thorsten spoke more about BlackBerry 10 and spoke of RIM's partnership with QNX and TAT. When they started looking at where they needed to improve, it became clear that they needed to build a completely new OS. He mentioned that they did look at the option of using an open OS but when that was considered, they "didn't [get] a real good confident feeling". After some searching, they found QNX. Once they acquired QNX, the operating system, they looked for a company that could create an outstanding UI, which led them to TAT, the creators of the Cascades UI. You can see that BlackBerry 10 truly is a completely new OS. It's not simply a revised version of BlackBerry 7.
Also during this Q&A session. Heins confirmed a few new bits for the press. When asked about BlackBerry 10 devices with a physical keyboard, he resolutely stated that there will be BlackBerry 10 phones with the famous BlackBerry QWERTY keyboard. He also expressed confidence in the new platform, saying that he "absolutely" expects to gain marketshare. "We're here to win. I'm not here to just be in the game." And then the question came that everyone was waiting for. Will BlackBerry 7 devices be updated to BlackBerry 10? The answer is no, they will not. Although RIM will keep a BlackBerry 7 team in place and maintain it for a while, the main focus of the company will be BlackBerry 10. Along with an answer, Thorsten gave an explanation. "If you build this from the ground up, there is no compatibility. It's the nature of the beast." He's right. Because BlackBerry 10 is a completely new OS, updating BlackBerry 7 devices would be like sending an update that switched the phone from BlackBerry to Android. Perhaps certain hacks have been done to achieve this goal, but it can't effectively be done and it wouldn't make sense.
So, that's BlackBerry World. The rest of the day will filled with mostly enterprise sessions and plenty of mingling. We may not have seen very much of BlackBerry 10 and there wen't any new devices, but the message was clear: RIM is laser-focused on delivering a platform and user experience that will wow its target audience and be a strong force in the mobile market. They've said and done all the right things. This is a new RIM with a new BlackBerry.