Why it wouldn't make sense for RIM to initially launch a BlackBerry 10 phone with a physical keyboard

Why it wouldn't make sense for RIM to initially launch a BlackBerry 10 phone with a physical keyboard
By Kevin Michaluk on 22 May 2012 09:26 am EDT

We've had a hunch for a long time now that the first BlackBerry 10 phone to hit the market later this year will feature a full touchscreen design, lacking the physical keyboard that BlackBerry is traditionally known for. This was confirmed earlier this month at BlackBerry World, when we got our first preview of BlackBerry 10, running on a full touchscreen Dev Alpha device.

Some media outlets took the BlackBerry 10 touchscreen typing demonstration to mean that Research In Motion would be abandoning the physical keyboard on future phones.  CEO Thorsten Heins quickly squashed that misinformation the next day, when he confirmed during a press session that there would definitely be phones in the BlackBerry 10 portfolio that offer a physical keyboard.

Phew. This confirmation led to a big *sigh* of relief from CrackBerry Nation, including your's truly. Despite this good news, however, I've observed a lot of comments and discussions in the forums among users arguing that it's a mistake for BlackBerry 10 to launch with a full touchscreen device. For many BlackBerry users, it's precisely the love for the physical keyboard that has kept them from defecting to the competition, and it's these users who have been waiting the longest for a major operating system revamp to BlackBerry phones.

As of now we're not sure how long it will be after the launch of the first BlackBerry 10 phone before a variant with a physical keyboard will be released. For the sake of the BlackBerry faithful who want it, I hope that the wait will be a short one. But I will reason that RIM is absolutely making the right decision to launch a full touchscreen BlackBerry 10 phone first. Keep reading for my reasons why.

1. BlackBerry needs to prove it can build a full touchscreen device that is relevant (aka Tech Reviewers would rip a physical keyboard BB 10 phone apart)

Walk into any carrier store today and you will find yourself in a sea of full touchscreen devices. The few devices that do have physical keyboards are likely to be BlackBerry Smartphones. This illustrates two important points. First, that customers have a preference for full touchscreen devices. Secondly, that the competition has all but conceded the physical keyboard segment of the smartphone market to BlackBerry already.

If the first BlackBerry 10 phones that RIM shipped out to tech reviewers had physical keyboards, the resulting reviews would be a bloodbath. You can envision the headlines and conclusions just thinking about it.... "BlackBerry proves they still don't get what consumers want" ... "BlackBerry still hasn't figured out how to make a proper touchscreen phone" ... you get the picture. And if you've followed the BlackBerry press over the past couple of years, you know I'm right on this one.

It's easy for RIM to make an excellent physical keyboard. They need to launch with the full touchscreen phone because it's the more challenging thing for them to prove they can do. And for those saying they should launch with both at once -- unveil both a full touchscreen and physical keyboard device at launch -- I think even that would be a mistake as RIM needs all of that attention going into the fact they've finally killed it with a full touchscreen experience. When the first BlackBerry 10 phone hits the market the world will be watching, and BlackBerry needs to take that opportunity to win back reviewer and consumer mindshare that RIM can carve out a niche and be competitive in that sea of full touchscreen devices.

RIM has a clear focus of who they're building BlackBerry 10 for and how it will be differentiated in the touchscreen market. We're loving the direction they're taking here (the topic of an upcoming editorial).

2. RIM wants people talking about how good their touchscreen keyboard is

Everybody knows BlackBerry makes the best physical keyboards. If you disagree with that statement, you've never used the BlackBerry Bold 9900 (seriously, it's not even open for debate). Watching the BB10 touchscreen keyboard demo at BlackBerry World, it became clear that RIM wants to be known for having the best keyboards on phones, be it physical or touchscreen, period.

As much as people can cope with typing on touchscreen keyboards, it's still one of the things most complained about by touchscreen users. With the BlackBerry 10 touchscreen keyboard RIM has really shown some innovation, and what we've seen so far looks to have the ingredients of a keyboard that is not only fast and easy to type on (even with one hand,) but also addictive and fun to use.

If the first BlackBerry 10 phone reviews all say that the touchscreen keyboard rocks, that's a massively good thing for BlackBerry. Even if there are some other gaps at launch, if the touchscreen keyboard rocks, that'll go a long way towards BlackBerry getting back into the game.

3. Apps, Apps, Apps - a front facing physical keyboard would fragment resolutions for developers

The BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha device has the same HD aspect ratio as the BlackBerry PlayBook. There's a reason for this. It makes it easy for developers to turn their existing PlayBook apps into apps for a full touchscreen BlackBerry 10 phone.

We're not quite sure how RIM is going to handle resolution when it comes to a BlackBerry 10 phone with a front facing physical keyboard (the same sort of form factor as a Bold 9900). RIM could do a slider that shared the same resolution as the Dev Alpha, but when it comes to putting a keyboard on the front of the device, the display aspect ratio would change. You'd likely get more of a 1:1 aspect ratio (with no need for the trackpad and navigation buttons, we'd expect the display to be 20 - 30% taller than on a device like the Bold 9900).

In order  to support a BB10 phone with a keyboard on the front,  RIM would either have to introduce some fragmentation and force developers to support another resolution, or perhaps run apps like games in a frame on the display - leave games in HD format but put black bars on the top and bottom. Either way, right now RIM needs to simply hustle on getting apps onto BlackBerry 10 for the launch of the first phone. Going with the same resolution as the PlayBook just makes sense. To launch the first BlackBerry 10 phone with a physical keyboard on the front would just make things messy, and RIM doesn't need any messiness when BB10 hits the market.

4. Gives RIM a chance to blow out inventory of old BlackBerry 7 phones

People who value physical keyboards value the communication prowess of BlackBerry Smartphones, which in-market BlackBerry 6 and 7 phones address pretty well. By launching BlackBerry 10 with a full touchscreen first, it gives RIM a bit more time to keep blowing out the inventory of their older BBOS devices.

I know, it's a bit of a weak reason, but it's sort of true. Also remember that enterprises that are still running fleets of BlackBerry Smartphones don't necessarily upgrade or swap things out overnight. For the companies that are still running BES and are not changing overnight, they'll still be looking for and buying BlackBerry 6 and 7 phones.

Also, RIM is still doing fairly well with low cost BlackBerry smartphones in international markets, even introducing new models right now. While we know BlackBerry 10 will proliferate the entire product portfolio (I take it to that means eventually low end as well), RIM will have a better chance to blow out that inventory they're pushing hard to sell now if the initial BB10 phone is a higher end full touch model.

5. BYOD is a reality; RIM needs to win over consumers who are bringing their own devices to work

While point 4 addresses that some enterprises are still committed to BES, the opposite is also true. There is a huge shift in enterprise to support the Bring Your Own Device to work model. RIM has been losing out with BYOD as consumers have been wanting to bring touchscreen devices into the work place (they were used to getting handed the physical keyboard BlackBerry Smartphones for years before that).

The adoption of RIM's Mobile Fusion mobile device management (MDM) product will really be driven by a wanting-ness for consumers to bring BlackBerry 10 phones into the enterprise. These users are the ones RIM really needs to try and get on BlackBerry 10 at launch -- these are the BlackBerry People who Do -- and it's an awesome full touchscreen that's going to have the best initial attraction, especially for those who may have (reluctantly) left BlackBerry for another platform. A physical keyboard BlackBerry 10 phone wouldn't win back the love with those who already left BlackBerry for full touchscreen competitor. In a BYOD world the BES / IT admins have to support the devices employees want to bring to work. There are other MDM solutions out there already for companies to use. Mobile Fusion will do the best job of supporting BB10 devices of course (as well as a good job on iOS and Android), but companies will only be pulled into Mobile Fusion if employees want BB10 devices. RIM needs to win these people over.

OK. Those are five reasons why it wouldn't make sense for RIM to first launch BlackBerry 10 with a full physical keyboard design. I think the logic is pretty sound. Agree or disagree? Sound off in the comments!

Reader comments

Why it wouldn't make sense for RIM to initially launch a BlackBerry 10 phone with a physical keyboard


Read the article. I address that. Wouldn't be as good for a few reasons... need the focus to be on killing a touchscreen... don't want to introduce  fragmentation on screen resolutions... the physical keyboard needs to come *soon* after... but not at launch.

Wouldn't releasing a phone with a touchscreen and physical keyboard phone with the same screen resolution take care of hardware fragmentation?

Sure.. if you can keep the screen's resolution the same. Which you could probably do a with a slider form factor... would be hard to do with a front facing keyboard (and it's front facing keyboard that i see a lot of ppl wanting on bb10... slider too of course). And among RIM's core 77 milliion user base, the number of Torch users is small compared to the number of front facing keyboard users. They'd really have to crush a slider design that everybody loves.

At some point (sooner than later I hope), RIM will put out a bb10 phone with physical keyboard. Will be interesting to see if the first one is a slider or bold 9900 style device.

I see where you addressed that in your article. If RIM does introduce fragmentation they better keep it simple - 1 touchscreen phone & 1 QWERTY phone, that's it! None of this Curve, Torch, & Style shit!

As much as I agree that they really should have a two devices model (a Bold-like device and a full touch device only) I can't help but wonder the strike they would get with a Pearl comeback.

Half my "I'll never have BlackBerry" friends simply go "awww me wants" when they see a 9100. And then they do "REALLY?!" when I say it does everything my 9780 can do.

That Pearl-ish device would also be perfect for an entry level price point...

PLEASE, please, no Pearls! The only options should be stick phone with keyboard, hybrid (slider), and an all-touch stick phone.

Perhaps the hybrid is the only odd one, but some apps just demand screen space, and those who want more complex app options AND a physical keyboard will have that. Otherwise, I don't want to see any Pearls or Curves -- please, NO MORE CHEAP PHONES! No more "flagship" phones either. Make every BlackBerry the very best it can be!

Also, if you want to appeal to teenagers, offer last year's phone at a discount as Apple does. You don't have to design, manufacture, test, and approve a new device! That's a very costly venture for little gain.

The last batch of Curves 9350/60/70/80 don't appear to be doing well -- after all the 9900 & 9810 are around the $50 mark with a 2-year plan. Some of those Curves have already been discontinued.

2 devices only.I'm reminded of about 8 years ago when creative launched an mp3 player that really was better than the ipod. CNET and some other sites begrudgingly admitted it. I bought one, and then the next genereation. I loved them. The problem With them taking hold was a) marketing (sound familiar) and their decision to release a dizzying array of devices. They have like 9 different styles of MP3 player, all competing against 1 or 2 ipod form factors. Same as android with a kajillion phones competing against 1 iphone form factor.

BB only needs 2 form factors. Full touch and a keyboard. Also remember u don't want developers having to develop 1 app 4 or 5 times for all of these different form factors. It will hurt development, it has in the past.

I don't think they should only have two models but they need to keep it simple. A high-end touch screen, QWERTY and slider. Then the same but for entry level phones. The qwerty's all have to have touch screens on them. And they have to simplify the model numbers, they should not be different for different carriers/cellular technology.

Creative's MP3 players really were awesome. I liked my Zen Xtra 40GB, the Vision:M, and the Vision:W. Agreed 100% that Creative is a prime example of what RIM must avoid (too little marketing & too many products that can confuse the consumer).

The Curve is designed for the lower-end market whether that be in North America or India. Though not a personal fan of the Torch it is quite popular with those that want the best of two.

Hence why they should release a model based on the BB Blade concept design. The Torch, while being on only one carrier in the US is pretty popular.

...BB Blade! A cool slider design that is light and has a great sliding mechanism *could* be all RIM needs in the physical keyboard model. Doubt that would happen, but would make things a LOT easier as far as screen resolutions/app compatibility goes. IMO the Torch isn't as popular because it's heavy, thick and doesn't "look" that great. Something thin and sleek like that Blade concept could win over a LOT of current Bold-design users.

That concept slider is sexy, bu a device that thin will have a terrible battery life. Cant do that exact concept. Nevermind the curved glass and what that will entail in terms of manufacturing and how it stands up to abuse.

I have a 9860 and its sleeker than most phones out there - so HardWare-wise its great. My complaint is most apps suck on it due to the resolution being off. Keeping to ONE device would be the way to go (maybe sleek slider), two would be challenging but doable - loose economies of scale. Supporting more than two phones would show they have not learned.

I have a 9860 and its sleeker than most phones out there - so HardWare-wise its great. My complaint is most apps suck on it due to the resolution being off. Keeping to ONE device would be the way to go (maybe sleek slider), two would be challenging but doable - loose economies of scale. Supporting more than two phones would show they have not learned.

Funny, I have a 9860 but I can't agree with you that "most apps suck... due to the resolution..." The phone is longer and a bit narrow (sort of like a 16x9 ratio), but I have yet to see an app that has a problem with the dimensions. I have 60+ apps installed with no dimension issues, but I suppose you and I run different apps.

Kevin, Great Article! Recently I've been reading more and more of these more objective articles, than the usual fan-boy stuff. While some may say “too little, too late” It’s heartening to see BB waking up to some real world realizations – and this may get them back up. Thumbs up !!

Apps remains a real issue, and not fragmenting the market with several devices is key to getting developer support. An app should work with same look and feel across devices without a single tweak. BB needs to learn what others have done well and marry it with their own strengths (BB still rank high on security).

RIM should "be bold" and do something no manufacturer has done before...release a full touch, and a horizontal slider at the same time.

A surprise would be if they released a phone alongside the London that had a portrait screen and a nonsliding physical keyboard like the Motorola XPRT. Maybe they could have a smaller screen (even 3.5") and keep the resolution/ratio. Maybe compress the pixels a bit so there isn't any fragmenting. There wouldn't need to be a slider and if the bezel was conservatively shrunk then the additional length would be maybe an 1-1.5cm. The prelim photos of the London shows that it could handle it considering the monster bezel. Add a slider and you add thickness, can't market that well. Add some more length and no one really complains nowadays about length/width just thickness.
I read the article and i admit that delaying the launch of a physical keyboard phone even a couple months would make the statement to reviewers/public that Blackberry doesn't need a crutch like the keyboard. The problem is that the main people that will upgrade their device on launch day will probably do so for a physical keyboard device. So come launch day RIM might make their statement and earn some respect with the media/critics but sales of the device may not be as strong because of people holding out for the device with the keyboard. Stockholders and analysts don't really give a crap about respect just numbers. If the numbers don't add up then they will be bashing RIM anyway even if they approach the launch with a full touchscreen. Damned if they do and damned if they don't. I'm very curious to see how it all unfolds.

You didn't read Kevin's article. He covered that. Both at the same time would allow folks to disregard the all-touch device, as it did with BB7's 9850/60.

Seriously, RIM did it to themselves creating the "flagship" 9900. Just calling it that meant that reviewers would just look at the 9900 and compare it with Apple's best or Android's best. Of course, since the 9900 was not all-touch (with a smaller screen), it didn't attract as many takers.

Also, RIM failed to properly inform buyers that the 9900 was a touch device. At a quick glance, most just assumed it was the "same old" BlackBerry keyboard based device.

Ufa RIM needs to take BBM to next level, we need video chat incorporated. I suggest BB blade (with screen/ battery life tweak) and BB tk-victory as flagship for BB10

My big difference between the touch screen and physical keyboard is the punctuation. Every physical key has a "." or "/" or ":" that I use when composing emails. It's why the BB is so professional (IMHO) for users. If the touch keyboard makes it easier to punctuate our compositions, then I am on board. But right now, the 9810 touch keyboard (I used the compressed setting) makes it harder to punctuate.

This is why I think many iphone users rarely respond to emails, where BB users have no difficulty at all in responding. My $0.02.

When I was phone hunting, I was looking out for the . to be on a separate key, even more importantly the primary key as I use a lot of ....s
However that is Not a Deal Breaker "." [did you see what I did there? ;)]

The demo video showed that the user can simply swipe between the letter and special character screens. Which should make it rather easy to move between the typesets.

I have a torch 9860 and its easier to put punctuation in it than on a physical keyboard its the same button as changing to numbers it actually adds more punctuation than the physical keyboard without the need to hit the sym button on the keyboard

I felt this way, until I started messing around a bit with my PlayBook.. I turned it sideways and low n behold, I was too able to touch-type on my playbook. I think that if they do this touchscreen right, it should be quite easy to touch-type on it as-well. If you have a PlayBook, give it a try.. Trust me, I was able to get a full paragraph out without messing up even one word.

There is more a market for both consumers and developers on a touchscreen phone hence why the majority of android and apple phones have so many users and apps available if rim is to survive as a company they need to maintain demand and if that means moving to touchscreen devices so be it

There is more a market for both consumers and developers on a touchscreen phone hence why the majority of android and apple phones have so many users and apps available if rim is to survive as a company they need to maintain demand and if that means moving to touchscreen devices so be it

As an iPhone user, that's not entirely true. I can type fairly well without looking at the keyboard. It's about memorising where the keys are. I have no issues with typing on a virtual keyboard. I think it's somewhat more about what you're used to: I've tried the Bold 9900 in the store and I had a difficult time typing on it. I didn't know how to turn on caps lock and a few other things. With practise and more understanding I'm sure I'd have adapted. That being said, I cannot wait to toss my iPhone for a full touchscreen BlackBerry 10 - it'll be my first BlackBerry device. :)

I'm curious to know why you want to go with BlackBerry instead of your iPhone. Especially since it will be your first BlackBerry device.

BB10 needs the ecosystem to survive out there against the competition. I totally agree about how it would be a challenge to develop apps with a portrait keyboard attached to the device.

Imagine trying to game on this phone, when you turn it to landscape and you have to maneuver around the keyboard just to interact with the touchscreen. it would make many apps a pain in the arse to use. In sum, sticking with the all screen form factor is the right move.

Ecosystem.. hmm, let's see.

App Store -> AppWorld. Check
Video calling -> Video Chat. Check
Music -> Music Store. Check
TV & Movies -> Video Store. Check
Books -> Kobo. Check (I know! But it's there!)
Podcasts -> Got the app. Check
Cloud services -> Said to be coming soon.
INTEGRATION -> *alarms go off, red lights kick in*

Hmm you definitely got me there...Shouldnt have used the word ecosystem. Games are but one of the smaller pillars in the castles construction.

I guess I was referring to any app that needs to be rotated to landscape mode to be used effectively. Point being - you do not want to create roadblocks for developers to deal with.

Ok. So I'll buy into this reasoning. But as someone who bought an iPhone 4S four days ago yet am using my 9900 to type this (for a good reason) how long would be fair to wait for a keyboard BlackBerry before I get impatient? I mean, I don't wanna wait 6 months after the touch screen launches heh.

I'm the "goto" guy for all my friends about phones, but I can't sell them on something I've never used. Without a physical keyboard BB10 phone, I can't full on convince people BB10 is the way to go.

Hopefully the wait isn't too long

isnt the resoution on the dev alpha device higher than playbook resolotion??? The aspect ratio is the same. Hopefully the 4g playbook will get the resolution upgrade as well.

I'm good with my 9900 - it's not quite a year old and I'm not going to throw $600 out the window in order to get the latest greatest BB ! Have to be somewhat sensible with my money.

As for the BB10, when they do come out with a physical keyboard (in a year or so) I'll have a look at it and if the price isn't ridiculous and the keyboard is as good as the Bold 9900, why I just might buy one.

Until then ... long live my Bold 9900 !

I don`t know why there is a problem to start both:
Full touch & Physical keyboard?!

Hands down, the BB10 alpha and it´s successor will be awesome devices!!!!
But if I wanted a full touch, I might got an Iphone...

For me PERSONALLY the full BB-experiance is not only because of the BB-Servers,
it make the combination with the physical keyboard!
I can`t even imagine what could be better than the one from 9900...
I came from the 8700 and 8900 and would be glad if there was also a 9900 successor with BB10 right from the beginning...

Just my opinion.

I like the article, but it doesn't really address the possibility of releasing a full touch device AND a keyboard device at launch. Besides Apps, I see no drawback to doing this, and it gives it customers a choice.

The keyboard is one of the last distinguishing features Blackberry has left. Why not launch with it?

Actually, I **do** address that in the article. Twice.

Two reasons not to launch with a physical keyboard, even if they could:

A) The world will be watching the launch of BB10. Everybody knows RIM knows how to make physical keyboard devices. They need the full world's attention going into the fact they can now also deliver an amazing full touchscreen experience. Distraction to a physical keyboard would be bad

B) Resolution fragmentation. If they went with a front facing keyboard design, the display would likely have a different resolution. That would be bad for apps like games.

Sorry, I just don't agree. B.) is something that WILL be addressed in the future anyway, why not just get it over with now. It's not like they are only going to be making touchscreen devices in the future, so why wait to bring out Blackberry's best feature??

A.) Yes, all eyes on RIM, so why get rid of Blackberry's best feature and make it look like all other devices? I'm not saying not to release a touchscreen device, but releasing one more model won't hurt..

Look, B.) is a hurdle they are going to have to jump eventually, unless they are planning on going all touchscreen in the future (different discussion).

Releasing a BB10 all touchscreen device and a BB10 phone with a keyboard simultaneously immediately creates a new line of Blackberry phones to be reckoned with. Will there be extra development time? YES. Will the resolution immediately be fragmented? YES. But if you are planning on doing that in the future anyway, why not do it sooner rather than later and keep Blackberrys most distinguishable characteristic intact?

"So why wait to bring out Blackberry's best feature??

The current market doesn't agree that a physical keyboard is the best feature. Quite simple really.

Frankly, I like physical keyboard of BB. But, now-a-day every1 keep talking and buying big screen phones (they prefer big screen). So in order for RIM to get back on track, releasing BB10 is right phone. Anyway, full touch with amazing keyboard is not enough? Need perfect touch, elegant design, good material, useful apps (Skype, English Dictionary, Navigator) etc.

A question? Do people love BB is because most of them love physical keyboard? If the answer is YES? Then, if RIM go for full touch screen phone, they need to bring more special and unique features, apps, design etc. into it which other phones don't have to fascinate consumers. Otherwise, it s just as normal as touch phone (iPhone 4S - 5 coming? HTC one X, Samsung S III).

Hope BB10 will dominate the phone market soon hehe.. :D

I totally agree with you Kev! they need to position (steal some market) their new full touch experience. And this is key to the success of BB10, Blackberry has the best keyboard on the market, and that market will be there when BB10+keyboard comes.. they need to focus on the segment where they haven't been strong in the past.. I'm very optimistic of RIM's future, they are making the right decision... focus developers and marketing on full touch BBs 4 mass consumption and then upgrade the keyboard market...

Why not launch with it? Because the vast majority of smartphone users don't want it.

The Blackberry keyboard is the absolute best in class.... nobody else comes close to touching it. That is mostly due to the fact that RIM has been the leader in mobile keyboard development for a long time now, but it is also due to the fact that hardly any other company out there is doing R&D on physical keyboards for mobile devices. Touchscreen keyboards are not the way the market is going....it's already there. People are a lot more adaptive than they are given credit for and all of you that think you can only type quickly on physical keyboards are just selling yourselves short. Does it take some adjustment? Sure. But after a few weeks of practice and learning to trust the auto-correct, you're generally not noticing a difference. It gets to the point where someone like me, who has used an iPhone now for about 2 years, can't stomach using a Blackberry.

I really like the look and feel of the 9900 and bought one when they eventually landed on AT&T. But after a few days on it I had to send it back and the main reason was because of the physical keyboard. After getting used to a touchscreen keyboard it is almost laborious having to physically press a bunch of keys. And it slowed me down....considerably.

So yeah...it makes a ton of sense for RIM to make their first BB10 device touchscreen keyboard only. The op-ed up top is right....they release one with a physical keyboard and it is going to get ripped to shreds by the tech writers. And if RIM somehow weathers this storm they are currently in and continues to be a part of the mobile market for the foreseeable future, I doubt their physical keyboard has a presence in the consumer market five years from now.

I can't agree to this. As someone who switched from a 9900 to a Galaxy S2, while I enjoyed a lot of the changes switching to such a device, the one element which continually frustrated me was the keyboard. I tried the stock keyboard, Swype and Swiftkey but no matter which one, typing was always a chore. I basically gave up sending long emails or texts from my phone because it was so frustrating. So, after 8 months on the S2, I picked up a used 9900 and went back to BB.

Within the first day I was back to emailing like I was before and don't regret in the slightest using a BB for core communication needs (phone, email, chats). Now, when I swap SIM cards and go back to the S2, it becomes the pain in the @$$ to use.

Personally, I wish more developments could be made on the Swype front as I generally prefer it except for the fact that its text prediction is often cr@p and I have to switch to typing the words instead of sliding my way over the keys.

Anyhow, there are definite advantages to both types of devices but as it stands now, for communicating and typing no virtual keyboard is as good as a physical keyboard. Maybe someone will eventually come up with a way to make a touchscreen as good and maybe it will be RIM, but until someone does, there will continue to be a need for physical keyboards for the percentage of users that rely on communicating.

Agree that the vast majority of users want full touchscreen. No question. I went from a keyboard to a BB 9850 and am fully convinced it was the right move. The full touchscreen provides more task flexibility and display than any keyboard model could ever provide at same size and weigt.
RIM has to move the dials, meaning big sales, and selling replacements to existing keyboard users will not do that.
Launch with the full screen. Prove the ecosystem and new OS with awesome new onscreen keyboard. Turn the ship first.

It's a full touch screen world right now... RIM has gotta show they can do it and knock it out of the park. By launching a full touch screen phone alone... all the focus is on that phone. Hopefully it does indeed rock. I have been curious to try a full touch screen phone... the first BB10 device may be it... we shall see...

I'd love to see a video of a Bluetooth keyboard connected to an Alpha Dev model. That would help me decide if I should go for the full touchscreen or keep waiting for the keyboarded BB10. Love my 9930 and can't imagine going back to a touch like my Storm2.


Perhaps we can use Bridge to control the 1st BB10 phone with a 99xx :p
actually would be kinda cool all joking aside using HDMI out on BB10 then couch control with a 99xx.
Boldly sent from my 9930

I'll begin by saying that change is not a bad thing, and it is painfully clear that change is past due for BlackBerry. I have been faithful to bb for almost six years and have taken ribbing from friends and co-workers for a long time for my staying true blue bb! The points that Kevin makes are good. Mostly. But the main point I would make is to give the first BB10 keyboard an open mind look. I admit I too am a dyed in the wool physical keyboard person, but I am equally excited to give the new keyboard a chance. Who knows, I just might like it!!

Nice article. Good points. I agree and think the biggie is apps and having a keyboard on the device would've killed the apps and led to bad reviews. Hope it all comes together soon.

I dont know what RIM is thinking but being the PM for all mobile signal device for my organization we are digging in to the OS6/7 for the long run!

The old people on top have somekind of attention deficit or complexity phobia, i had one VP storm into my office asking me how to find the setting on his Iphone (his personal phone)
those guys who stay on top are in no mood for anything too fancy the swap will SWAMP them off their feet........

As for me i like the old OS6-7 as does all field Operation Mangers!

I have no problem with RIM pushing out the BB10 all i hope is that the OS6 and 7 will be retained for commercial users or low end users whom find our old devices charming and every bit endearing!!


i can't even picture what the Bold version of the BB10 device will look like. Will it resemble a 9900 or will it be like something we have never seen before? how do you squeeze all that goodness into a tiny little screen?

i'm eager to play with the slider version! #beTorch

you forgot the REAL BIGGEST reason. BB10 will be delayed if it has a keyboard. In order to provide a bb10 with bb-like experience, its gonna need all the shortcuts that the keyboard provides : this means more code time that rim can not afford.

All I know is, I can't wait. I love my key board but mainly because I have never found a touch screen keyboard that gives me that true one handed use. I love my physical keyboard because I can type so much faster, I have never been able to use predictive text even when I have my 9800 I only used the touch keyboard maybe twice. However with the gestures built into the touch keyboard I think not only will I be able to use it one handed and on the go, but type even faster than I do currently.

No physical keyboard, no Blackberry, It would be a huge mistake to launch 10 without Keyboard.

Nothing works better than physical keyboard. I don't care how good a touchscreen keyboard can be I want a true keyboard! Rim is slowly killing Blackberry device...

Rim is not slowly killing BlackBerry devices they are already on life support. I LOVE my 9930 but it makes absolutely no sense to launch with a keyboard device. RIM needs to re-invent it's products and launching with a dated keyboard device is not going to help RIM stay relevant. I personally can't wait for the BB10 touchscreen. As long as they can create a touch keyboard that functions like the one from BB10 Jam then I have no reason to ever go back to a physical keyboard again.

You mention it Kevin, but not as a reason:
"First, that customers have a preference for full touchscreen devices" Period.

As a year-old BB user, I'll try to open myself up to accept where these things are going.

Sure, it was a bit of letdown knowing that BB7s are going to be obsolete in the coming 1-2 years, but what is good for BB to compete in the market, I'm sure it IS good.

While waiting for the physical-keyboarded BB10 to come, I'll definitely rock my 9900 untik the day comes. It's kind of sad to know that these expensive phones (i broke my bank to get this 9900) will just be a shortlived kinda joy...

I'm in since 2009. I've seen OS5 devices being dumped. I've seen OS6 devices getting the stick. I skipped OS7 so I would not have to get enraged when my 1 year old device got the EOL/No updates flag.

It hurts.

The good news though, for all getting into BB10, is that - should RIM keep doing the right moves - the days of no updates for previous generation hardware are over.

We can expect something very much like iOS does, support for a few generations of phones. Hardware would be the update factor. Larger batteries, faster processors, new hardware features, more memory...

Future looks bright, I'm buying the keyboardless device even if just to help RIM.

I feel old, I'm still on OS5 :O ... I'm a keyboard person that's why i rather have my Curve 8530 then all those new touch screen phones on the market, BB keyboards are the best hands down.

I'm on the same page as you and skipping OS7 for OS10....

I might just get the new touch BB and also the new BB10 Bold, why not, thats why we have sim cards lol

for now I got my playbook so i can wait

Great article from Kevin, although I will argue with Kevin about the "best physical keyboard", as I believe it belongs to the Bold 9000 and not the 9900. Having used both, the 9900's keys don't have that same feel from my 9000, but I would take a 9900 over a 9000 any day.

I've been torn about whether to go for the all touchscreen device or the physical keyboard device when BB10 arrives. I do prefer a physical keyboard, but I believe that apps will run properly on the touchscreen version over the physical keyboard (look at Android apps running on a SGS2 vs. HTC Status). I like the touchscreen device, as the keyboard looks quite usable and the Dev Alpha just reminds me of a mini-Playbook (yes, I recognize the Dev Alpha won't be the final version available to consumers, but it's still pretty cool as a concept).

Nahh way. I'm comparing two 9000s right now to two 9900s side by side.  I too have fond memories of the 9000's keyboard, but it doesn't compare to the 9900.  You can type way faster and more accurately on the 9900. 9000 buttons take more pressure to press and aren't quite as fick. The roll effect isn't quite as nice.  You need to do the side to side comparisons... then let me know if you still feel the same way. I'll bet not.

When I got my 9900 I thought like chosen1. Then, after a week or so, I had to resurrect my 9000 for my wife.

"Nahh way" is gold answer. Even with my fat fingers.

Some good thoughts in this article Kevin, I can see the amount of work you put into it. Although I still disagree with you, I feel like the blackberry 10 launch isn't meant for all of us blackberry die hard fans the ones that have stood by RIM and BlackBerry all these years I feel like we are being put to the side while they focus on converting the apple/android fans. You said it your self in the article point number 1 the reviewers would rip it apart if it had a keyboard. I wont disagree blackberry does need to convert some customers from other platforms and reviews are very important, but I think that RIM should be focused on the the loyalists. Blackberry is a messaging platform, we need that keyboard just ask the "try writing a thousand emails on a touch screen" girl. If an all touch blackberry is truly the best thing for RIM why have the others done so poorly? I cant even find any 9850/9860 from any of the major Canadian carriers and the only American to have the 9850 stocked is verison. Kevin why did you opt for the 9900 instead of the 9860?

With all due respect, I would argue that RIM's problems actually stems with the very recommendation that you are making - focusing on the few die hard fans while ignoring what the majority of consumers want - has almost destroyed this company.

RIM needs to expand its focus beyond the traditional, the antiquated, the old, and the stuffy. They need to focus on the new, the young, the flashy, and bringing back the "wow" to their products.

Consumers dont want their phones to just be a messaging platform - they want media, entertainment, games, social interaction, and more. And a touchscreen device is the way to ensure that.

In any event, the loyalists are not being forgotten as a keyboard phone will be coming out. But I suspect that when the sales data starts coming in, it will be the touchscreen device that has outsold the keyboard one.

I understand everything that Kevin is saying. However, I don't have to agree with it. I don't want a "torch" like device, I want exactly what I have, with a new operating system. I've had every iteration of the "storm" designs and I have yet to like either. I currently am using a 9930. What's going to happen here and I could be wrong, but it's going to be like WINDOWS. Microsoft put out new OS's after XP. But everyone was happy with XP. So they continued on for so long, that it hurt their new OS's. So if I don't get a 9930-like phone, why switch?

Just sayin'

Why get a full touchscreen BB10 and be a guinea pig for their new touchscreen when i can get a iPhone 5? Keyboard is why im still here

The future has been full voice control since the 80s and it never happens. Fingers are just so much more convenient.
It slightly impresses some Luddites when I tell my car "Home" and the satnav asks if I do indeed want to go home, but try using voice to navigate even the last 5 destinations. It is painful.
As for Siri, I strongly suspect that for the week before a new ad comes out they spend their time teaching the server every possible pronunciation of the ad's query. Will it be sunny in Paris? How many other European cities does it work for?

The only way for RIM to keep from losing more ground to the iPhone/Android market is to compete on their level. I am not saying that RIM needs go head-to-head with those brands BUT if they want to keep current market share and try to gain even a little bit they need to rock the BB10 fullscreen touch out of the ballpark

The vast majority of former BB users have moved over to the other(dark)side due to the simple fact that RIM wasn't offering a comparable device/user experience. With BB10 that will change.

Just sayin'....

Is just a matter of seen overall market behaviour. The point is not to satisfy the current keyboard user, i.e. like me, we will stay with RIM. The point here, among others, would be to capture the curiosity of actual full touchscreen users from other platforms (iPhone, Android, Windows) and prove them that BB is as good, or even better in whatever those platforms can do (or say they do). There will always be full touchscreen users, i.e. Generation Y, and keyboard users, i.e. all previous generations. I think RIM is doing the right thing.

I understand the move to release a full touch bb10 as the first device, but won't the majority of initial device adopters be current BB owners and returning customers who loved/loves the qwerty keyboard. Wont this put off life long subscribers who have stuck by only for the tactile keyboard.
Furthermore what i don't understand is the current barrage of RIM's "Imagine typing 1000 emails on a touchscreen" commercial months away from the BB10 release.

Figured I post this from a friend of mine who BYOD's his phone to work,

"The concept is great, but now they OWN your phone. Your personal and private contacts, data, and information, that doesn't belong to the company? Can now be remotely whipped. Really? Is that REALLY a great idea?"

While the fearless leader makes good points, what I am hearing from my BB loving friends (except from my good friend Diegonei) is that the physical keyboard is a deal breaker and people will keep using the 9900 until the bb10 physical hits. I hope that RIM knows it is forcing users make a choice. Either they can embrace the new RIM and early adopt BB10 w/o keyboard first and get away from what is for most of us the thing that makes a BB a BB - an awesome physical keyboard that we fly through, OR they can sit and wait. Because RIM is asking us to make that choice, I hope they can respect that a huge amount of the core users (that have kept this company afloat) are going to sit on the sidelines rocking an OS 7 device, and will continue to update and service said devices. To not do that would be a double insult.

It comes down to this:

The first full-touchscreen BB 10 phone is about preventing current BB users from defecting to other brand full-touchscreen phones, and getting current other brand full-touchscreen phone users to buy a BlackBerry the next time they buy a phone.

RIM's problem hasn't been losing qwerty BB users to other brand qwerty phones, so they can afford to wait a little longer. Like it or not, but RIM's diehard qwerty customers are more "in the bag" because RIM dominates the qwerty market: the Bold 9900 will still be better than any other brand qwerty phone on the market 8 months from now.

For me you can not beat the physical keyboard for a communications device, but thats not what is important in todays smart phone market. The majority of smart phones today are used for games, as televisions, as GPS units etc etc, in other words they are for visual applications first and for communications last. Blackberries are the absolute best at communications, that is their success and also their failure. This is why RIM must bring out the touch screen only device first, this is the market they need to capture, they already have the physical keyboard market. I love physical keyboards but I want RIM to make a come back more. I can wait for the physical keyboard version.
Just one point regarding BOYD, is this were you go out and spend $1,500 bucks on a laptop, $500 bucks on a tablet and $500 bucks on the latest smartphone to save your company from having to buy them thus saving them money. Then I believe you submit these to your companys IT department so they can restrict there use. WOW!!!!!!!!

Sadly RIm is now alienating their own users?

They basically aren't letting us BB lovers get a NEW BOLD with rich everything and a keyboard.
So they are hoping they can out iphone/droid, the iphone and droid. But sadly, I think a lot of people get their phones, not for phone reasons but just to pass time and play games that I feel aren't that entertaining. It is more of a way of fitting in and being together.

Rim, your keyboard on the touch device better be quality, because not everyone uses phones for all that jibber jabber. And not everyone wants an outdated phone either. In fact, BB has kinda started to lose the battery life it once claimed to hold onto so well.

They do need to release a new Bold, maybe by Xmas that is nice. But then again, if the 9900 drops in price when these phones come out, that won't be bad either.

I go back and forth on this , both have their virtues. To me what makes or breaks a touch screen is the size of the keys and the quality of the predictive text. Options on a touch screen are crucial, may people rave about swype but I despise it. If the keyboard on the 10 is better than the PB which is very good ,we may have a go. I can't imagine Rim doing both on one device like HTC. Ultimately my choice would be a phsyical landscape keyboard with good predictive text as demonstrated on the alpha 10, combing the best of both-a physical keyboard with sophisticated predictive text

Am I the only one considering a "two-of-a-kind" would be the greatest option ?
I mean a landscape slider (for more keys and ease), so that you can use it (stand/in motion) portrait with touchscreen for rapid and common tasks (place a call/answer, short text/BBM being firsts) and (sit/desk)landscape for more intensive ones (long email/text document, blogging, ...). Strangely, I've never seen a prototype/concept with a landscape keyboard ... is this that dumb (or I may have missed it) ?

P.S : BB10 being full touchscreen is 100% ok for me and I agree Kevin's args.

I dumped my iPhone to buy a BB 9900, I'll use it until the new BB 10 comes out and test drive that one, if and when they launch a keyboard model, and I'm still wanting, I'll buy that one too. All I know is that I hated my IPhone because the screen was too small and the typing is terrible (iPhone 5 at 4" is not going to work either). The larger screen on the BB 10 might finally work for me so I'm glad to see it come first. That and I love my PB.

(Side tracking here, I love my PB so much I'm trying to figure out a way to mount the darn thing in my SUV!!)

So bring out that wonderful BB 10 ASAP! Add on a detachable keyboard to the BB 10 and I'm in heaven! LOL

I mourn the loss of the optical touchpad the most. It's so much more *precise* than using touchscreen, and you can actually *see* what you're manipulating. What good is that marvelous screen, if two thirds of it is taken up by the keyboard, and half of the remainder is obscured by my own fingers?
For any kind of text editing, the optical touchpad is indespensible - and now it's dispensed with :(

I absolutely DESPISE the trackpad on my 9930. It's possessed. I can have my finger an inch above the trackpad, to the side, it could see my reflection, you could walk under a tree with lots of leaves giving off shadows on a sunny day (yes, this happened last weekend) and the stupid trackpad starts scrolling. When trying to do something, and the trackpad goes crazy, I want to throw it and hit the closest iphone user in the noggin. I'm seriously thinking about putting some black electrical tape over it, since I dont even use the thing.

Good article Kevin.

Your point number four regarding selling out inventory is a bit weak, but I want to build on what you said.

Your opening sentence is, "People who value physical keyboards value the communication prowess of BlackBerry Smartphones." This is a key point.

Blackberry has a lock on people who want physical keyboards. This is an important group and there is no way that Blackberry will abandon us.

But,... because they have such a strong hold on us, there is no need to devote precious resources to keyboards right at the start. Instead, they can focus on a general phone, secure in the knowledge that when they come out with a keyboard in a few months they will again experience a sales/shipment 'pop'.

They need to keep their current base happy by promising a physical keyboard very soon, but they can focus on the general touch first.


PS. I like the Crackberry editorials. Keep em coming!

I will not join the whole discussion with everyone on what's better or worse, I can just truly say that I want a 9900 keyboard on a OS10 device and that's it :) I hate typing on glass...

Nice article Kevin and I pretty much agree on all points even though I would want a physical keyboard for bb10. That being said, just from what I've seen in am for the first time ever, seriously tempted into trying a full-touch experience, but only with BlackBerry, no one else.

I think RIM could launch both together but I think they are doing what everyone wanted them to do, focus and only put products out that fit the bill. If they had to split resources and focus on two very different from factors it would have poor results for both. By focusing on the touch first, it is easier and more accepted by the broader consumer market. Once that is out, they can devote 100% into making the keyboard version awesome in every way. Focus.

If RIM is really going to focus in the people that "want to get the things done" then they'll show models with physical keyboards. The easier way to write is with a physical keyboard. You don't even need to look at the screen to know what you're writing. I'm also not really sure about the discussion of resolution. I think that RIM will offer models with an slide keyboard. Hopefully a lateral slide keyboard instead of a vertical one.

I still think they should launch Two Devices, All full Touch and Keyboard that way they win all of their customers approval and the Media can give reviews on Both.

Have a Full Touchscreen with a sliding Keyboard and other model without sliding keyboard (just the touchscreen) at launch and both the segments of consumers would be happy.

Any guesses as to when the physical keyboard phone will launch? I'm still rocking my trusty 9700 but not sure it will hold out another 12 months. Should i upgrade to a 9900 now or just wait?

Good article, Kevin. I agree that RIM is doing the right thing by releasing full touchscreen first and only. Those of us that love the physical keyboard aren't going anywhere and we will wait for the physical. But RIM needs to finally focus on what the majority of smartphone users are buying, and that's touchscreen devices with big screens.

I'm hoping for the best with the release of BlackBerry 10. Hopefully it turns heads, and hopefully it gets a keyboard. I can't type as fast on an iPhone or an Android device than I could on a BlackBerry keyboard. I just hope I don't have to get stuck with a touchberry.

I agree with Kevin. The focus needs to be a full touch-screen experience, to ensure it is top-notch. RIM already owns the physical keyboard segment (which is continually shrinking as people learn to adjust to virtual keyboards with the benefit of a larger display), so they don't need to worry about locking in those users. They need to wow everyone with BB10, and having a physical keyboard at launch would detract and somehow turn into a negative. After a bit, they can start offering a slider option next, and then after that release a classic Bold-style device.

Oh, and the resolution IS NOT the same on the Dev Alpha and the PlayBook. The BB10 dev alpha device is 1280x768, while the PlayBook is at 1024x600. Same approximate aspect ratio, but a nice spec bump for BB10 phones (especially at a much smaller screen size), which gives a very high DPI. I'm not sure the Bold-style BB10 device will work with a screen that is the same aspect ratio, so that would mean 3 different resolution (2 different aspect ratios).

I just want to see no more spinning hour glass, and no more battery pulls, and not be any more the one in my group of friends that says " They do not have that app for BlackBerry".....

I've failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed. - Michael Jordan

About 1 month ago I did a clean install of the updated OS for my ancient BB9000. I was doing battery pulls every day before that. I have not pulled the battery even once since the OS update. The only problem I have with the 9000 is not enough memory for apps. I wanted a 9900, but now that my 9000 is working so well I might just wait for the Querty 10.

I realize I'm part of a dying breed of smartphone users and I'm ok with that, but I still luv my Blackberry keypad and i will wait on the BB10 with keypad until the cows come home!!!!

I'm hoping for the best with the release of BlackBerry 10. Hopefully it turns heads, and hopefully it gets a keyboard. I can't type as fast on an iPhone or an Android device than I could on a BlackBerry keyboard. I just hope I don't have to get stuck with a touchberry.

Albeit that however, I personally think that RIM is going for the other market of smartphone users who are inclined to apps and games and movies and etc. It's a good leap, but RIM's leaping into iPhone and Android territory, which could be dangerous as both of the aforementioned brands are already established well into the world. Not only that, for that market we need developers going on board with the apps that RIM can get on their BB10 phones so I hope that we can see growth with the new BB10 platform and hopefully (for my sake) a physical keyboard along with the platform. Doubtful, but staying positive on this article. GREAT reasons Kevin! I'm a big fan. HAHA

Full touch screen, I LOVE IT!!

I switched from from my old 8310 to a 9530 when they came out. I got used to the touch screen keyboard right away.

Later I changed to the Torch 9800 and loved the keyboard (big change from the 9530). Then, I changed to my current Torch 9810 when it came out.

At this point I only use the touch screen on my 9810. At this point, when I use the physical keyboard on the phone I do not know what to do and have to stop and think about how to operate it.

It actually doesn't make sense at all for Blackberry to release touchscreen phone first. Sure, some people who love Blackberry want a full touchscreen device but the bulk of the Blackberry customers want a physical keyboard device.

They NEED to stick to their own brand which is mastering physical keyboard devices and let Android and Apple master the full touch devices. Blackberry has touch devices out now and has before too (Storm, Torch, etc) and in my opinion, they all suck. Decent for BB but in the big picture compared to Apple and Android, they suck.

Even the response times of the Playbook is pretty bad at times and the software isn't close to perfect. And I'm a HUGE BB fan but the path they've went down and are going down still is terrible.

I currently have a 9900 and want to get a new device badly because this is my 3rd one in a few months, and they've all had freezing issues. I'll be waiting for BB10 9900 type device to come out but I'm sad to say, if the hardware/software are out of date - I'll shed a tear and say bye RIM just like thousands of people say every day to them.

Not trying to bash or anything but that's the sad reality of this company!

So what you are saying is those of us who have remained bb faithful in spite of all the bad press and negative publicity should have to wait so RIM can try and win over some of the isheep and android nuts? That seems like a good strategy screw the loyal customers and hope you pick up some new ones! I have been using a 9810 since it came out love it but I have had an upgrade for over a year thought about getting the 9900 but then bb10 would be out for a year before I could upgrade. So I have been waiting and I am sick of it. Everyone I know besides my wife and I have switched to android or iphone. So I have 1 person on bbm there for its useless I just text her to. I have remained loyal but I will not buy a solid touch screen bb. IfThey better not make us wait to long. ThThat's Rims biggest problem the past few years they are a day late and a dollar short.

I can just see it now. Kevin rubbing his sore neck from shaking it from side to side as he reads the bantering. I own (NOT USE) an iPhone4 and a BB Torch, yet swear by (and demand) a keyboard (once again ...MY pesonal preference) for daily email and needs. Although I understand RIM's reasoning, its nothing more than a matter of time until the physical keyboard edition appears on the BB-10 platform people! I feel pretty confident that all previos BB operating systems will not be going extinct on BB-10 release day. I am more than capable of dealing with a phone that works flawlessly while allowing for the time needed for RIM to get the BB-10 keyboard phone out.

Well written and well reasoned. I think the touch screen devices will need back and forward facing cameras ala Playbook and I believe a QWERTY keyboard model which is in final development stages needs to be previewed at the launch of the 1st phone to reassure physical keyboard users that something is truly in the pipeline and near fruition.

Just because RIM isn't releasing a physical keyboard device first as well doesn't mean you have to dig dig dig for reasons to try and make sense of why they are releasing a touch one first. No matter how good it is, iPhone 5 will be out by then and will be better. Stick to Physical keyboard devices and their own loyal customers!

I swear Ballsile is still running things or this Heins fool is just as dumb. Keep making current customers mad RIM. GREAT job.

I Think it would be kind of cool to have a BB 9900 style device with OS 10 and a All Touch Device, but I can see why they want to lead off with all touch. To get people used to the new keyboard layout ...

I'm very happy that bb is releasing a full touch device first. I love my 9860 and don't think I would ever go back to a physical keyboard.

Torch 9860, Playbook

as a long time BB user (Bold 9900 currently) I cannot see myself buying a BB10 smartphone without a physical keyboard. I already have carpal tunnal and paddle thumbs from years of using these damn things ;-)

Tried to type and email on my wife's iPhone 4S - nearly chucked it in frustration. Hell, I even bought the BT mini keyboard for my Playbook as I can't stand typing long emails on that touch screen.

I guess I'm a luddite but I also rarely use the touch aspects of my Bold.

I'm not giving up my keyboard. I've tried the virtual keypads and they just aren't for me. I'll keep my Torch. If I do switch to another brand it would be a Droid phone with a keyboard...there are still some of those. As a business user, I'm typing too many email and need physical keeps to prevent typos.

I wasn't impressed to hear it...but I am now convinced that this touch-screen keyboard is going to kill everything else dead in the water. Looks like RIM have really pulled all the stops out and it is great to see that they care to really put the efforts in to take touch-screen keyboarding to a new level. The way it learns what you want to say and they allows you to touch a single letter and then know what word you want is amazing! Cannot wait to see these phones in the shops..in the meantime I am more than happy with my 9810 and PB...!

Hey Kevin,

As usual, an excellent and informative article.

You may be aware of this date already, but I'm told by someone at BELL that RIM will be launching their first BB10 phone in SEPTEMBER, 2012!!


- CB

Great article Kevin, and your arguments no.1 & no.2 are in fact the most common ones.
I am not upset that RIM does not want to launch a keyboard-BB10 phone at first, as it is obviously true, that the friends and fans of physical keyboards are also have to be satisified, but they are already customers and most of them do not buy every new released phone.
But with RIMs entry to the full-touch competition (yes we all evolute back to get monkeys who can only hit big buttons on their banana-phones ... damn it so much) they can reach a whole new bunch of possible customers, what is obviously very important...or even the most important thing.

And as the whole world is depending on self-named experts and reviewers, you have to make the decision, get ripped or get praised for go with the masses. Sad tech-world.

I can wait for a BB10 device with a keyboard. Had a HTC Kayser some years ago, nice form factor with the horizontal sliding experience and the big keyboard under the screen. In my opinion thats still a great way to design a business-smartphone with BB10. You can not insist on a front faced keyboard and even a big touchable screen. Even on the BB9900 web-browsing is not as good as on a full-touch device or a tablet of course. Also the Torch-opportunity is not the best way in my eyes as the keyboard is damn small there. A friend of mine has one, and he uses only the touch-screen.

Also a lot of playbook apps are designed for horizontal use. so it would make sense to concentrate to the horizontal use of a BB10-phone too. Thats also a point for a horizontal keyboard ... damn it, slowly i get a picture...and it looks great.


Not sure most of those reasons stack up. Except perhaps the inventory blow out! (And my guess is that is what the inventory write off was for in the last quarters numbers).

Unless RIM has no intention of releasing a device with a physical keyboard (which they say they will), eventually they have to resolve all those problems. And some of them could be argued either way.

"RIM disappoints customers and fails to release a keyboard device" is as likely a headline as any other. Negative coverage about RIM has little to do with reality and everything to do with financial motive and schadenfreude.

The format issue can be resolved by having the device software take care of screen formats, with the developer simply providing layouts. This already appears to be the approach for BB10.

They key then is for RIM to ensure that whatever device is released, it's screen size has the same aspect ratio as larger devices - either in portrait or landscape mode.

Either way, unless they get the marketing right with perhaps some form of share market activity prior to the launch they'll hit a wall.

BB10 could bring world peace, cure cancer and raise the dead and it would still get negative press.

"BB10 Raises Man From Dead - Resurrected Man Asks 'WHAT NO SKYPE!".

No. The problem is - Blackberry releases a dual-core device while Droid and maybe Apple will release quad-core devices. So you can say all you want like "BB10 could bring world peace, cure cancer and raise the dead and it would still get negative press" but the fact is, positive pressed is earned, not given.

"So you can say all you want like "BB10 could bring world peace, cure cancer and raise the dead and it would still get negative press" but the fact is, positive pressed is earned, not given."

The press is made of people and corporations that generally depend on advertising for their living.

So it's a safe bet that behind every unbalanced, skewed review of BlackBerry, there's a major advertiser calling the shots. Even if indirectly.

Now who could that be?

Postive press is usually bought and paid for. Not that there aren't journalists of unquestioned integrity. A few perhaps.

You might also be interested to know that some of the more well known tech blogs are underwritten (or "advised") by major players in the tech industry.

And by the way, what point is there in having a quad core smartphone if the OS can't use the cores? It's quite likely a BB10 dual core phone will outperform most other hardware on the market. And future Apple products may have quad core graphics but I've heard nothing of a quad core CPU. Dual core yes. Truth is quad core on a phone seems overkill.

So... just to reiterate, alienate the reason you are to this point? That works? I'm a blackberry user and have always been. But if you're not going to focus on what I want and I'm part of the vast majority in wanting a physical keyboard, then I might have to defect. Cause you're not going to out touchscreen another company, when that has been it's only focus... Tactile feedback is important

You say you want a physical keyboard. If RIM releases a full touch FIRST you're going to defect? Defcect to...what!? An Iphone (touch screen), an Android (touch screen mostly), a Windows phone (touch screen)? Surely you see the irony. You'd be going to a touch screen to get away from upgrading to a BlackBerry with a touch screen.

First of all, you can keep your current BlackBerry with physical keyboard until BlackBerry releases a physical keyboard BlackBerry 10 device. Which is stated will happen.

Secondly, if you MUST upgrade asap and your choices are the other platforms with virtual keyboards, then why not try the BlackBerry virtual keyboard too? It may be better?

Otherwise, you will use your current BlackBerry. You will wait for RIM to release a physical keyboard BlackBerry 10 and you'll be quiet about it. :) RIM aint losing it's core customers that love the physical kb. We're still here. That's not their focus RIGHT NOW.

They're trying to get defectors BACK from other platforms that use touchsceens.


There is no other alternative that is on the level of RIM when it comes to physical keyboards and everyone knows this.

I bought an Android device moving form an iPhone(I always have a BB) and thought I would get one with a landscape sliding keyboard like I did when HTC made the old Windows Mobile. I rarely use the thing and it adds size and unnecessary weight.

BB Keyboard fans are going nowhere if they truly desire a physical keyboard or if they do, they will truly regret it.

I think it makes sense for them to come out with a full touchscreen device for BlackBerry 10 in order to show off the full software improvement, but they also need to come out with a phone that has a keyboard because that is what they are known for and what most BlackBerry users enjoy about BlackBerry. RIM doesn't have anything to prove in my opinion. They just need to reach their full potential. Myself personally, am not going to buy a BlackBerry 10 device because I like the Bold 9930. It has the best of everything! Can't really get much better than that. Phones should be phones. Used to call and connect with other people. NOT toys! I think RIM is selling out in order to prove something when they really don't need to. All they have to do is make their devices more solid with a few improvements and some more quality apps.


I agree with your reasons on the touch screen launch first, but one thing still annoys me having watched the video of the 10, and it's also the very first thing (and still does) that annoys the heck out of me on anything starting with "i"

If you're going to put a qwerty keyboard on a touch screen, why on earth can we not have a row of numbers along the top like a proper qwerty???
I'm using an ipad (yes, sorry, it's from work) and having to press a button for numbers, on a device that is large enough to type normally with 2 hands, is just a waste of effort, and i see the bb10 is the same.

Just typing the numbers in this comment has involved 8 un-neccessary button presses!

Please bb, make a real qwerty for the Ten (see? Less button presses!!)

Earlier this year when I was looking for a replacement for my Bold 9700, I had considered purchasing a Torch. However when I started to compare the latest Torch to the Samsung GS II, it really became apparent far BB phones were behind the current slate of new phones.

So I purchased the GS II and quickly started to notice how much I missed my Bold. Since I needed to use the phone at work, my employers' IT policy requires the phone to be encrypted and locked with a 6 digit, complex password. So the first time I used the GS II as an MP3 player in my car, it became apparent that this was simply not going to happen. It's so much safer to use any device that has some type of physical buttons so that you don't have to look at the screen and to have to enter a long, complex password every time the phone is locked. At least with media buttons you could control some functions (playing music) while the device was locked. I was able to find an Android app called "PowerAmp" which let me play music, skip/prev songs without unlocking the phone and having to type that $%^# unlock password.

I think Kevin is right in that RIM is smart to go ahead and release the first BB10 device as a full touchscreen. The large screen is one of the reasons that I purchased the SG II.

Yeah, I miss the keyboard. Typing on any touch screen is (at least for me) just not as fast as using the Bold's keyboard, but having that big, sharp, clear screen sure makes web browsing nice. I'm really hoping that RIM will create a Torch slider BB 10 phone after the initial London release. Please make it thin and have the battery life that BBs are known for.

Apple sold 35 million touch devices last quarter. Samsung sold 40+ million smart phones, a large majority of them touch devices, in the last quarter. The juice is in touch devices Kevin's right RIM needs to make their splash there - it's where the sales are, and more importantly, where they will be tomorrow.

I think what goes unspoken here is if you are married to a physical keyboard - where are you really going to go if not wait on RIM? Samsung makes a few flavors of landscape physical keyboards - but it doesn't seem like they sell a whole lot nor does the Droid 3 from Googlerola. Apple doesn't and won't make one and even HTC has said they are done with physical keyboards. Search "phones with physical keyboards" there are some ugly Pantech and Sharp phones, the Samsung sliders, and the Droid. None of which scare RIM right now I don't believe. If RIM has time it's where the competition isn't as fierce.

I think there are two home runs iPhone hit with their VK's. This may sound simple but first is the vertical alignment of the keys. They are lined up closer to a computer keyboard then the BB VK. If you notice on your computer keyboard, the V is centered below the F and G where on BB physical keyboards (at least on my 9810), the V is squarely under the G. This works for the physical keyboard because (for me at least) it makes it easy to type by sliding across the keys. Because they are real keys, you can feel where one key stops and the other begins. With the BB virtual keyboard, the alignment is the same as the physical, so I can't slide and I find myself frequently hitting the key next to the key I wanted because they are not where my brain is trained for them to be like on my computer.

The second is the audible feedback. I don't know why there is no way to have a tapping sound when the key is pressed on the current BB VK. Turning on the "Key Tone" setting is horrible. The tone is dumb and it doesn't keep up when you type even moderately fast.

So the dev alpha device has the same key alignment as all berries which I understand is a trademark, and I'm sure it's going to have audible feedback like the playbook. I hope the new swipe gestures will really put it over the top.

I think it'll be full screena nd slider. It just doesn't make sense to for developers to do two screen sizes.

A slider is the best trade-off. Keep the PlayBook screen aspect ratio and readability, it's great for apps. I had a touch screen HTC Touch Elfin once and I'm not going back to a touch-screen only phone (buttons all but invisible when outdoors in full daylight; no key press feedback unless audio is on). Without a physical keyboard RIM will lose most of its fans, and for what? Hoping to woo iPhone and Android users to BlackBerry? Good luck with that. Let me guess -- the touch-screen only new BB10 handsets are out and they sell poorly because fans are waiting for the ones that carry a physical keyboard... That's a no-no.

True about the touchscreen being first. Im just wondering if theyre programming the shortcuts in the touch keyboard thats one thing i dont want to give up. I really love that about the physical keyboard. Im hoping for the bb blade that would be my best option. Also im wondering if they will offer different colors at launch or at least white as another option.

Its like I said months ago most of phone users use touchscreen... get those guys wanting to try BB. us BB fans will wait for the keyboard we will hold onto out 9900... its a smart move rim I have said this WAYYYYYYY bac in the day... this article is wayyyy late

RIM needs to KISS....."Keep It Simple, Stupid" 3 from factors and that's it. A full touch, a slider with the same resolution as the touch, and a qwerty. It creates less confusion with customers. It also cuts the work of devs. In my theme developing days, the biggest headache was porting the same theme to God remembers how many forms factors. God forbid we miss one. Then we get torn apart on the forums by the users. And don't get me started with the various os'. Both bb10 low end and high end phones should have the same resolution respectively.

BB 10 is a key turning point for RIM and they need to have a physical keyboard for BB10 ASAP. They shouldn't wait too long and risk loosing more customers!

There are some Droid phones with keyboards or if they are BB loyalists like myself, maybe wait until a physical keyboard model comes out. Frankly if it's not a Slider, I might move onto the Droid models. I like the large screen over the Bold that I have with my Torch.

But when typing for work, I need a real keyboard.

Where many have already been flocking to.. iOS and Android. RIM needs BB10 to be successful right out of the gate and to do that they need everyone to buy in and not wait for a later model. A keyboard must be released at launch.

Both phones should be launched at the same time in one magnificent celebration. RIM wasting energy thinking about which keyboard type should be launched first is like a man on his deathbed worrying whether or not he took his morning multivitamin. Just give us the darn phones asap and make sure the BB10 marketing campaign blows the general public away.

As usual beautifully written. From a commercial point of view I can't disagree with your logic.

........But I'm a 12 year BB user and can't imagine EVER using a VK. Love the idea of a landscape slider.

If it ever happened I'd think I'd died and gone to heaven.....

Hey Kevin.. its about time RIM offer you some sort employment in their organisation.
Couldn't agree with you more.. I am gonna get me the TC BB10 device despite being a diehard physical KB user. Time has changed ...Need the big 4 to 4.2 in screen for current day visual multimedia usage and internet surfing with LTE/4G and keeping up with the competition. Just hope the touch KB is as good as demonstrated.
I am hoping Rim should also try to put out the slider model preferably with with a 9900 type keyboard slide out on a 4 to 4.2 in touchscreen by middle of December latest before the X-mas season.

Lets get over it people. Physical keyboards are as extinct as the dinosaur. Time to move on.

I'm waiting for qwert physical keyboard BB10 I was excited for the touch but using this 9860 is getting irritating I miss the keyboard of my old 9800 thinking aboyt buying the bold 9900 and wait it out I answer to many texts and email for work plus BBm soon as I can get a bold I'm holding out till BB10 comes with physical keyboard....if u only knew how long it took me to type this on my 9860 lol plus no 7.1 on AT&T smh

I don't understand the problem with waiting on the new bold. RIM came out with the 9930. I have it. By the time the new one comes out it will be time for my renewal with sprint. The only ones that are probably upset are the ones who didn't choose to go with bb7. I love my phone but am looking forward to upgrading. The bold touch paid its dues. Now I will have to choose between all touch or the new bold. Instead of complaining about who rim is leaving behind why don't you guys get the all touch bb10 and show your support for RIM? I don't want to see them go anywhere so I may just be moving on to all touch and if I don't like it I will be able to go for the second generation bb10.

The point is for all of you who chose to wait for bb10 then deal with it and stop complaining. The writing was on the wall that bb10 would be a while. You guys just chose to ignore it.

Sooooo, someone remind me. Wasnt BB10 device initially rumored to be release Q1 of 2012? Just curious....haven't been here in awhile.

I realize this is a BB dedicated site, so I expect a pro-BB bias in most/all articles but when you RATIONALIZE every decision your credibility starts to drop. If RIM attached razor blades to the back of the new phone would you be praising the clever decision to save shaving time while on the phone?

Seriously, RIM is in trouble, and launching without a keyboard reflects a company dealing with tough choices, not one making decisions to best meet the needs of customers.

I've tried the all touch experience with the GS2, and going back to my 9800 was what I needed to do. I upgraded to the 9900, but I think I might have preferred the 9810. I like the smaller keyboard, and the screen resolution works for all aspects!. Who likes starring at an on screen keyboard while they type? You would atleast look down at an on screen keyboard more than a physical one.

Bottom line; there are positive and negative points to both physical and touch screen keyboards. A slider would work best, imo.

It's a shame that RIM didn't implement PB OS2 at the beginning and give it great marketing with the awesome features of bridge. I just came back to BB a couple of months ago after the iphone 4 proved to me to be a communication device secondary to a app/music player albeit with a very good camera. I really am pulling for BlackBerry; though another 3 - 5 months will be a very long time for current users itching for a switch. I'm more than content for now with the keys on the 9930 and awesome bridged connection to the PB.

but can realy a blackberry 10 device be competetive with the new iphone running ios6 !! or an android superphone !! I mean, RIM must at least launch 30000 apps in the first day of bb10 !! I mean we want apps for blackberry smartphones that we allways loved on ios devices like angry birds, cut the rope, pulse newss, temple run and a lot of amazing apps and games....a user who wants to buy a touchscreen smartphone for entertainment and gaming !! well, it s an iphone or an android, but it's realy hard to convince users to buy blackberry 10 devices instead of an iphone or android ! blackberry 10 device must be good to compete not only with the iphone 4s or the samsung galaxy s3 or galaxy nexus !! but with the new iphone that will be launched at fall, if RIM made that mistake, it will be the end of RIM ! and everyone will switch to the new iphone or upcoming android !! I am a blackberry 9800 torch user, Im planning to buy a new phone later this year, if I found that blackberry 10 is good enough like a new iphone I will buy it, otherwise Im switching to iphone and forever !

Here is why it would make sense to release a NEW BOLD

1. BlackBerry needs to prove it can build a device that is relevant. The iphone caught everyone on their ass, and some even balked at it and called it a toy. The point is, though the Bold is a good phone, it isn't killing the competition, and it never has been. It is just winning over BB loyalists from other BB phones. Rim needs to say, here is a BOLD with no compromises. Stunningly beautiful screen resolution, quick processor that is ahead of the game not 3-6 months old when it releases, and a roomy keyboard for even the fattest fingered Americans. Hence the reason why so many say they dislike the smaller curve keyboards.

2. Rim needs people talking about how good their phone is period. Their next BOLD needs to not only look breathtaking, but feel and perform that way too. Get rid of the hour glass waits (I know that is an OS thing with java) and bring in mind blowing speed in everything. It isn't all about touch screen, it is the experience. People think my white Torch is an iphone, it does look nice. Keep that premium look on all of your phones.

Also, when a phone or playbook starts up, it shouldn't take longer than my laptop or computer, hands down, there is no reason for it to. When you install an app, it shouldn't restart. And when you mutltask, it shouldn't freeze up!

RIM needs to start making fun of those websites that make fun of autocorrect and say things such as....since when did this become acceptable? If your laptop keyboard produced that many errors, do you know how many people would be fired, never hired at all, and possibly sued? The best defense is a good offense RIM, they can't attack if they are defending.

3. Chuk apps. Yes my name is Chuk btw for those of you who don't know. I use it instead of cursing. RIM needs to stop relying on apps all the time and release a solid phone experience with a powerful internet browser. While some apps are amazing, and some companies and even countries (such as Greece) have rebuilt themselves with them, it is time to walk before you sprint. Let us ignore all this gaming, and get back to what RIM does best. Why should my professional tablet boast how it can run this racing game smoothly? Or play Angry birds?
Yeah it is great to have them, but just build a solid phone that people can't talk bad about.

In the past, you had to choose wifi/gps on your phone. Now, you have to choose do I want Skype/Netflix? Make a badass powerful phone with a front facing camera, strong GPS and anything else these clowns brag about. You need to beat them hands down when you are an underdog, you can't simply match them.

4. Get rid of your old stock by offering deals that look silly to pass up. Say something crazy like, buy one get one or buy two get three. Or for companies say buy 10 get 40. Get rid of your 'old' BB7 devices like they are the plague. I know it isn't all about marketshare, and you need to make revenue. But honestly, your phones are your biggest problem, it is that they work. They older models, OS 4 and 5 and even 6. These phones are so solid they aren't dying and people see no reason to get a new one. Before school starts, and for the next fiscal year (October for most right) get rid of these phones and make people feel stupid for not buying them.

5. BBM is the key. BBM with everything, and talk about how useful it is for data overages and how BB compressing things. Look, Sprint is the only big carrier left with an unlimited data plan, people thought they would be on these forever. Tell them you can basically quadruple your data, simply, by switching phones.

6. Stop sucking. Truncated emails are lame no one likes that. And put real apps on the forefront. Like BB protect. BB weather. Talk about these things. Wikitude....let people know some cool things exist!

I want to comment on your third reason ! in fact you can not ignore the gaming and the apps, RIM did it once and they paid the price they lost the competition to the android market and the appstore, in fact few people care about enterprise business smartphones ok not few but the number of users who care about apps and games is way much bigger than number of users who care about chatting and business,BB users have seen the apps on appstore, and they say I wish that appworld has it,and boom Im switching to iphone, RIM was making products only for business men, and for people who like chatting and social stuff like me, Im a blackberry user, but in fact, BB10 is specially made for consumers who want amazing apps and games like angry birds and cut the rope, pulse news.. and big screens, so you can not give them a physical keyboard at the launch, they will say "RIM didn't change anything, Im going to buy the new iphone 6 (for example)or the nexus prime (example)" the main reason for BB10 is to attract consumers who are love in apps, and you can't tell them that apps don't matter the important thing is to have a fast browser and social apps, they will tell you "yeah right", so that's why the first one must be a touchscreen, and the physical keyboard lovers can wait, but not vice versa,apps and touchscreen lovers won't wait for a BB touchscreen phone, they will buy the new android or the new iphone.

the awesome soft keyboard shown on the Alpha device is supposed to have been provided by a 3rd party company and i saw a post on here where an android user mentioned he had that keyboard on his device purchased on the Google play.

if the keyboard is not patented to RIM like the physical keyboard is , then the competition will implement same on their devices once the see the rave reviews on the BB10 and then that edge is taken away from RIMM

am i missing something?has RIMM bought over the company and now own the patent on that softkeyboard?

I agree that RIM needs to launch a full touch screen device first. This device needs to do what blackberry devices to best, and also be good in other areas which android and ios are good, like browser, camera and decent good ups. The new device doesnt need to try to be good in everying. it just needs to be reliable, effecient and effective as a business and a tool for play as well. they will do very well.

What ever. I will definitely buy what ever RIM launches first. If I don't like it will move on to physical keyboard and pass on the touch screen phone to my wife.
But I know for a fact that both devices are going to be rock solid. What we are seeing now is a different RIM under Thor and they know what they are doing.

Let's rock and roll this!!!

- playbook and 9900

A Bold style BB10 should launch soon after the all touch. 3.5 inch screen (easily done with removal of the trackpad/keys), resoulution of 1024x600 (playbook apps will port over), dual core processor, front facing camera, etc,...... Top end specs, between 9-9.5mm, improve/enlarge the 9900 keyboard. This will be a huge winner!!!! All the apps will not be in there, but the hardware gap needs to be closed with BB10, PERIOD!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

No, it doesn't make sense to release the keyboard version 5-6 months later. They blew it, once again.

1. Sure it needs to prove that and hopefully consumers will like it, but that not a reason not to release a version with a keyboard at the same time, unless resources are spread too thin.
I suspect most of their current consumer clients use a Blackberry keyboard and if they decide to switch to a touchscreen because they're tired of waiting, they may go to the competition (because of better hardware, etc.)

2. Same as above

3. It doesn't work that way. The ones that will look OK are the crappy apps that have been badly ported from BBOS or Android to the PlayBook because they were developped for smartphones in the first place. Quality apps developped for the PlayBook will have their view components to be rewritten for BB10 and so a screen resolution change would not have been a major issue.

4. Corporate clients will clear out the inventory anyway, because certification takes time and most of these clients need that and stability before upgrading their fleet. RIM even had to create a website to try and encourage consumers to put pressure on their IT dpt because upgrades are not happening as quickly as RIM wants.

5. More devices mean more consumers, again, there is no reason to go with a touchscreen first, unless they had to pick one.

In order to make each device the best it can be, you have to focus on one at a time. You can't be competing for the best resources. I think RIM learned that creating the first three BB7 phones. The "flagship" phone just got more attention and the other two suffered because of it.

More devices may mean more consumers, but too many devices creates havoc for consumers and carriers. Carriers will tend to discontinue some models just because they can't support 10 different BlackBerry devices. RIM only needs 2 or 3, plus last year's 2 or 3 -- that should be it!

I think it's safe to say that Kevin would support the first Blackberry 10 device if they said it would be made of mud and weighed 20 lbs. to me the strength of BB is the keyboard and knowing RIM it will be months before they release one.

Although I'd love to have a full touch screen BB10 or even one with a physical keyboard like the 9900, I'd still wait for RIM to release a slider device. I'm currently using a 9800 which gives me the best of both worlds as it gives me the option of choosing what way to type, which is a plus because i like alternating every once in a while.. I'm so excited and can't wait for the BB 10 devices to be released.

BlackBerry FTW!!

Gee, glad to see a 9800 user still loving his or her BlackBerry :) The BB7 devices running OS 7.1 are SO MUCH BETTER than BB6, but since BB10 is just around the corner... ;)

Due to the resolution and app development challenges, I think RIM should release the models in order of: touch-only, sliders (Torch-style vertical & a horizontal model), then finally a traditional front-facing QWERTY model after they figured out how to handle the different aspect ratio/resolution & other differences in the OS that front-facing QWERTY would need. With the sliders, the physical keyboard should function as a supplement to the virtual one - it shouldn't be absolutely required in order to use the device.

Generation Duh and their fart apps and their toys and their self indulgence are not going to go to BB10 phones just because it has a superior interface. They're too shallow and self involved and too immersed in their "status" as iPhone or iPad users to even care that there are better alternatives out there. Just look at the whole Android deal - Consumer Reports just came out with an independent study that puts iPhones firmly at number 5 or something like that behind Android and Google phones. My company MAKES iPhone and iPad apps for one of our clients and I have a BB9930 and a Playbook because in my opinion, as communications tools, they are light years ahead of Apple. Their only drawback is that the "tools" on the development side (hello Amazon/Kindle) won't support it because RIM is so, so superior to anything out there. Unless, like I said, you're a self-important tool who HAS to have his/her fart app and toys.