Britain has stolen a march on global markets with the first make-or-break BlackBerry device going on sale tomorrow (Thursday).
This is a week ahead of Canada and over a month ahead of the United States. Price plans have yet to be revealed. The Z10 touch-screen device will go on sale tomorrow, with the Qwerty Q10 following in April.
The manufacturer has also dropped the Research in Motion name and will be subsequently known as BlackBerry.
The phones, which have been delayed twice, were finally revealed at a synchronised global launch across six cities today (30 January). Previously BlackBerry failed to keep up with the smartphone revolution it helped bring about, with its key corporate and teen markets being swayed by Apple and Samsung devices.
There were no major surprises at launch, with many of the key features of the BB10 OS and the devices being leaked in the weeks before today.
It includes the Peek and Flow method of browsing around the smartphone, which BlackBerry said was a means to navigate a device without using a home button. Among the new features shown off was Storymaker, which edits videos and pictures into a film that can be set to music, and Remember, which integrates calendar and emails.
BlackBerry CEO Thorsten Heins described this as 'the starting line' for the company. He said: 'We were building this with the smartphone customers in mind.' Chief marketing officer Kristian Tear, who was present at the London launch, said: 'We knew we needed to move our technology and our business forward in a way that meets the needs... of future consumers.'
The mobile industry has seen this as the last roll of the dice by Research in Motion. It does have a captive market of 79 million BlackBerry subscribers and its cash position is relatively healthy. However, it has fallen from its heights of several years ago. While the BlackBerry 9320 was the biggest selling handset in the run up to Christmas, its share sat at 6.4%, compared to 16.0% at the end of 2011.
The manufacturer's share price fell in the minutes following the announcement. Analysts CCS Insight said: 'The platform will appeal to the faithful and provide the means to compete, but challenges remain. BlackBerry must swiftly sharpen its applications and content offerings and halt the erosion of service revenue.'