Research in Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry smartphone, has made some spectacularly wrongheaded moves in the six years since Apple announced its first iPhone. It said that the iPhone wasn’t a game changer, and claimed that apps don’t matter. It’s grafted new features like touch input onto its aging operating system in ways that didn’t please anyone. It’s wasted time it didn’t really have to spare on a misbegotten tablet.
But in April, 2010, RIM did something deeply sensible: It acquired QNX, the maker of a highly-regarded, industrial-strength operating system used for applications such as car electronics and medical devices. It then set out to build all-new BlackBerry phones built on top of QNX’s plumbing — a project so ambitious that it wasn’t the least bit startling that it took years and involved multiple delays.
And now, at long last, that 2010 decision has a shot at paying off.
Last week in New York, RIM began its press event in New York by announcing news that was simultaneously shocking and logical: It was changing its name to BlackBerry, bringing its corporate branding in line with its much more famous product. Then it unveiled the first two phones running BlackBerry 10, its new QNX-based platform. The BlackBerry Z10 is a full-touch model which goes on sale in some countries this month; it’ll show up in the U.S. on AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile and Verizon in March. (Only Verizon has announced a price so far: $199 with a two-year contract.) The BlackBerry Q10, which sports the iconic BlackBerry physical QWERTY keyboard, will arrive later this year.