Troubled Research in Motion (RIMM) is playing to its strengths with the launch of the upcoming BlackBerry 10 smartphone and operating system. The company is billing its newest device as a smartphone with the functionality of a personal computer, targeting the corporate clients that have long been its best customers. RIM is also planning to launch BB10 all over the world, in hopes of capitalizing on its lingering strength outside of the major markets that have largely abandoned its products in favor of those made by Apple, Samsung, and other Asian manufacturers.
Kicking off the BlackBerry Jam Developers’ Conference in San Jose yesterday, CEO Thorstein Heins told his audience that BB10 will be released early next year. He said the new operating system will support both a corporate and a personal identity on one device, and that both will be encrypted. Called BlackBerry Balance, the solution allows users to switch easily from one persona to the other, meaning that personal apps, emails and social media accounts can be kept off a corporate network.
Social media is a clear priority for RIM with the launch of BB10. Heins said that Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and FourSquare would all be part of the new operating system. In addition, there are now more than 100,000 apps in BlackBerry App World, including many that are clearly targeting users when they are in “personal mode” rather than “business mode.” The BB10 operating system also supports HTML5, making it accessible to a wider range of developers.
Heins surprised some in his audience with news that despite its well-documented difficulties, RIM has not been losing customers. In fact, he said the company started this month with 80 million subscribers, up from 78 million at the beginning of the summer.
Update: RIM reported better-than-expected financial results late Thursday.
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