Though it recently hired a law firm to work out a restructuring plan, RIM is betting on BlackBerry 10 to propel RIM back into a state of relevance in the smartphone market. We’ve seen some leaks come out pertaining to BlackBerry 10, and prototype devices are due to hit BlackBerry World in May. RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has openly stated that we’ll see BlackBerry 10 hit the consumer market in the later half of 2012, and sources for N4BB have narrowed that window down to October 2012.
According to the source, the first BlackBerry 10 device will fully embrace the times by shedding the infamous hardware keyboard, instead opting for a touch-only device similar to the iPhone and most Android devices. If true, this would be a bit of a strange move for RIM, as most consumers who choose a BlackBerry product do so because they need or want a hardware keyboard, and when it comes to keyboards, RIM is the best in the business. Those who do want a BlackBerry 10 device with a hardware keyboard will have to wait until Q1 2013 to get their hands on one, which will either be a Torch-esque slider or the more standard BlackBerry form factor.
By going with an all-touch device, RIM is clearly hoping to play with the big boys of Android and iOS, though they might have been better off sticking to their historic guns. Sure, folks invested in the BlackBerry ecosystem would likely be the ones embracing an all-touch BlackBerry device, but these customers have been deflecting to Android and iOS in droves over the past several quarters. In our opinion, RIM’s potential for success include some variant of a hardware keyboard, which is what the hardcore RIM fans truly want. Unless BlackBerry 10 is absolutely stellar, it’s going to be a difficult task for RIM to pull customers away from Android and iOS. With Android manufacturers such as HTC indicating they’ll be moving away from hardware keyboards, the potential market is there for the taking for RIM.
What do you all think? Is it a good move for RIM to have the first BlackBerry 10 device be touch-only, or would you have liked to see them stick to their world-class hardware keyboards?