Although Research in Motion has been floundering lately to keep its venerable BlackBerry smartphone from going the way of the laser disc, new images of the Blackberry 10 operating system reveal a slick homage to Android and Windows Phone.
Crackberry.com has posted exclusive photos the site received Tuesday morning from what we expect is future BlackBerry marketing material. The photos for the first time confirm the existence of “tiles” or “widgets” in Blackberry 10, which will allow users to interact on a more surface level with applications such as Phone, Weather, Maps, and Music. The pictures also show revamped icons (thankfully) in the tray, and a distinctly-Windows-Phone font and visual style for the phone application. Note that the photo widgets seem to contain a live preview of the images within.
Rumors had been circulating for a few months indicating that the new BlackBerry 10 OS (formerly BBX) would actually just be a slight permutation of the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet’s operating system, but these photos clearly illustrate that RIM has taken the Playbook’s OS a step further and also adapted it for a more mobile experience.
It is no secret that the BlackBerry line has been in dire straits for quite some time — after taking a nearly half-billion dollar write-off for the Playbook — which essentially amounted to an admission that the device had failed. With a recent estimate that Apple’s App Store is worth more by itself than all of Research in Motion, the company is basically praying for a Hail Mary in the new OS. A new line of phones, beginning with the rather attractive, (if derivative) BlackBerry “London” smartphone, will either place the company squarely back in competition with the likes of Microsoft, Google, and Apple, or speed its demise.
Because Blackberry 10 phones won’t be shipping until late this year, there is still the possibility of some unknown features being slipped in at the last minute. According to former CEO Mike Lazaridis, RIM is biding its time waiting for the next generation of dual-core TI OMAP5 and Qualcomm chipsets to become available for the new phones.
What’s clear is that RIM simply cannot shoulder another failure such as the PlayBook. If the company is serious about reviving its consumer business (we seriously hope RIM is considering whether to abandon the consumer market entirely and focus on enterprise infrastructure) then it must make Blackberry 10 and the first wave of companion phones at least as good as they promise, and better than we expect.
Image Credits: Crackberry