Wednesday, September 24th, 2014 marked the unveiling of the much awaited BlackBerry Passport. BlackBerry held launch events in Toronto, London and Dubai, simultaneously. A bit like the BlackBerry 10 launch back in January 2013 but this time around there were three separate presentations. At the BlackBerry 10 launch, the main stage with then CEO Thorsten Heins was live streamed to the other events, as well as online. For the BlackBerry Passport event, the Toronto event was live streamed online and John Chen was the main presenter there. In London, where I was, it was headed by Marty Beard and Dubai had Mark Wilson lead presentation.
After, I came back from my trip to London I decided to watch the Toronto live stream as I do love to watch John Chen in action. If you were in Toronto or watched the live stream, you'll know that Jeff Gadway did the demos during the event. In London, we had Michael Clewley and what I noticed was that their script was very similar. I guess so that everything is uniform and everyone would be relayed the same information. In Dubai, they had two different people giving the demos - Chris Smith and Mike Al-Mefleh.
The London event was definitely a lot bigger than the BlackBerry Z30 launch I attended a year ago. There was a lot of press too. I did notice there were quite a few attendees in possession with a BlackBerry Passport already. I was sitting two seats from a women who had one and she was using it to take pictures during the presentation. I won't go into too much detail about the whole presentation as overall it really was quite similar to the Toronto event, with guests from NIL and Pronto Forms also present to showcase their apps on the BlackBerry Passport. If you haven't watched it already, you can watch the live stream replay. After, the presentation we were all escorted out to the demo areas where we could try out the BlackBerry Passport. We weren't given a glimpse of the BlackBerry Classic in London, as what happened in Toronto when John Chen flashed it briefly at the end. The demos were all occupied by the time I got into the room and there were BlackBerry employees on hand to help give demos and further showcase the new features. There was also a Blend stand so people could go hands on with it and really see what it was all about. Blend was definitely something I was looking forward to using.
While walking around, there did seem to be a buzz about the place, I didn't manage to get any recorded interviews but there were lots of people excited to get their hands on their very own BlackBerry Passport. Many of them unboxing them straight away. I would have too if I had the forethought to get myself a nano SIM before the event but alas I didn't and ended up unboxing it on the train back home. It actually caught the attention of someone who knew it was the new BlackBerry Passport. He's an iPhone user but was impressed by what he saw. Though he didn't give away whether or not he would be picking one up or not.
I always enjoy BlackBerry events and this one was no different. I love catching up with regular attendees as well as meeting new people. And it was nice to see many people clutching and using their shiny new BlackBerry Passport.
To end, I thought I'd give my initial thoughts on the BlackBerry Passport. I've been using it fully as my main device since Thursday but when I first saw one up close and personal in the demo area during the event my first reaction was "Man, this thing is huge!" I'm petite and I have small hands. I'd been using a BlackBerry Q10 as my main device and so it was a big size difference. The three row keyboard was definitely something I had to become accustomed to. It didn't take too long but I still look occasionally find myself press the 'Z' key thinking it's the 'Alt' key. Having the punctuation keys above the keyboard is something I'm still adjusting too. But the more I use the BlackBerry Passport, the more I fall in love with it. That beautiful, large screen. The touch-enabled keyboard for scrolling. It really is a joy to use. Once you go Passport, you really can't go back, especially not back to the Q10, which seems so small and dinky in my hands now. I do suggest playing around with one before purchasing.
If you haven't read it yet, you should check out our BlackBerry Passport review. And again, if you haven't watched the BlackBerry Passport launch yet or want to watch it again, you can catch the replay.