Rumors have been floating around since Waterloo, Ontario-based Research in Motion (RIM) unveiled its new BlackBerry (News - Alert) 10 platform earlier this week claiming that future BlackBerry devices would be devoid of physical keyboards. However, chief executive officer of the company, Thorsten Heins clarified yesterday that the company would not be moving away from one of its most widely acclaimed unique features.
Heins told reporters at an annual conference in Orlando, Florida, that dumping BlackBerry's signature keyboard "would be wrong — just plain wrong." He did, however, go on to say that the new line of BlackBerry 10 devices planned for release this year would be a mix of those sporting keypads and those sporting only a touchscreen.
The confusion started when RIM was unveiling its new operating system earlier in the week and the test device used to demonstrate the new software at the event was a touchscreen-only device. This device, which was given to developers in order to help them develop apps for the new platform, is just a test device, however, and is not the final product according to Heins.
RIM's BlackBerry devices were once dominant in the smartphone market until strong competitors like Apple's iPhone and Google's (News - Alert) slew of Android devices shifted the market's focus toward large touchscreens and a wide selection of apps while eating up market share. BlackBerry devices, on the other hand, continued to put the emphasis more on security and reliability — as well as excellent physical keyboards.
Analysts say that RIM might not have another chance after BlackBerry 10 while others still claim that it is too late for the Waterloo-based company. Its stock has, after all, lost three quarters of its value over the past year or so and shares dropped 68 cents or five percent to $12.80 on Wednesday.
It was Heins' cautious approach that caused the stock drop on Wednesday, as he said he would wait to see how well BlackBerry 10 does before pursuing possible licensing deals of proprietary features like BlackBerry's popular messenger service.
Edited by Brooke Neuman