Ina Fried

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Research In Motion Shows Off BlackBerry 10 Prototype

With RIM’s future on the line, CEO Thorsten Heins took to the stage on Tuesday to outline the company’s future.

Research In Motion is in the midst of a major transition, aiming to shift BlackBerry from its current operating system to one based on the QNX operating system that powers its PlayBook tablet.

“We’re taking our time to make sure we get this right,” Heins said of the transition. “We’re making incredible progress on BlackBerry 10.”

Though final products running the new software are not expected until late this year, RIM is handing out prototypes running the new operating system to developers attending this week’s BlackBerry World conference in Orlando.

“We will be there later this year with an exciting device,” Heins said. “This is not the final hardware.”

In the meantime, though, RIM is rapidly losing market share as smartphone owners defect to the iPhone and Android.

Heins began his BlackBerry World talk by outlining what he believes separates BlackBerry users from smartphone owners generally.

He painted the device as, above all, a time-saving device.

“You are people of purpose,” Heins told the audience. “You believe the more you put into life, the more you get out of it. You do more, and you get more done in a day.”

During the demo, Heins and others from RIM tried to paint the new operating system as designed to be more fluid and elegant than current options, which rely on multiple apps and the “back” button in order to get things done.

RIM showed a number of features of the new operating system, including a keyboard that adjusts to the user, and a camera app that lets you go backward in time to make sure you get that perfect smile.

“It’s like Time Machine for photo-taking,” NPD analyst Ross Rubin said on Twitter during the keynote.

In a clear sign that the company is focused on its core business customers, Heins brought out executives from Cisco and Salesforce.com.

“We’re building WebEx for BB10 right now,” Cisco Senior VP Chuck Robbins told the crowd.

The keynote is Heins’s first major address since taking over as CEO during a leadership shakeup three months ago.

“Until this year, I’ve sat in the audience with you,” Heins said.

Below is a short clip from the keynote:


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik