Research in Motion launched the highly-anticipated makeover of its mobile operating system, BlackBerry 10, and two new smartphones at a press event in New York City on Wednesday.
RIM kicked off the launch event with endorsements from professionals around the world. The company says it went on a world tour to talk to developers about the BB10.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took to the stage to unveil the BB10's final features and the BlackBerry Z10 and BlackBerry Q10, which will be the first to run exclusively on the BB10 OS.
"This is one of the biggest launches in our industry and today is not the finish line, it's the starting line," said CEO Heins.
BB10 has a feature called Balance, which is geared toward professionals who use their devices for personal use and work by using swipe gestures to switch between "work" and "personal" profiles. RIM boasts that businesses can keep data secure without forcing employees to carry two mobile devices.
BB10 launches with over 70,000 applications, including Skype, Amazon Kindle and WhatsApp. BlackBerry Messenger also gets a big update. The chat client now offers video chatting and BBM Screen Share - a feature that lets users share their entire screens over BBM.
BlackBerry Flow was also unveiled. The feature allows users to move seamlessly between apps by using swipe gestures instead of a home button.
Heins also announced that RIM is changing its name from "Research in Motion" to "BlackBerry." According to CNBC, the new Nasdaq ticker symbol will be BBRY.
Heins surprised audiences when he announced that singer Alicia Keys has been named the company's new Global Creative Director, saying that Keys has been in a "long-term relationship" with the BlackBerry.
BlackBerry Z10 is a touchscreen device running on BB10, has a 4.2-inch 1,280 x 768 touchscreen display with a 356 pixel density, front- and rear-facing cameras and comes in black and white. BlackBerry Q10 will keep a full QWERTY keyboard and has a 3.1-inch display. Both devices have 4G LTE capabilities.
U.S. wireless carriers AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile will be announcing pre-registration and price plans today. The white version of the Z10 will be exclusive to Verizon and will cost $199 with a two-year contract. AT&T says it will announce pricing and availability in the coming weeks.
BlackBerry Z10 will be not be available in the U.S. until March. The United Kingdom will be able to purchase the smartphone on tomorrow, Canada on Feb. 5, and United Arab Emirates on Feb. 10. There are no details on a release date or price for the BlackBerry Q10.