Today RIM CEO Thorsten Heins took the stage at the company's BlackBerry Jam conference for application developers to demo the next version of its operating system - BlackBerry 10. Originally due out before the end of the year, Heins announced in June that BlackBerry 10 wouldn't be ready until early 2013. Today he said it is on track and just "a few short months away."
Heins demonstrated a number of the platform's new features, including one for multitasking called Peek. You can swipe the screen to pull up a small hub of your apps. Also previewed was a new Balance feature, which separates work from play on the device. There are two separate browsers, so you can keep your work searches separate from your personal ones.
The touch keyboard was also a major focus. The new touchscreen keyboard predicts words based on what you begin to type. The first BlackBerry 10 phone will have a touchscreen only; RIM says phones with physical QWERTY keyboards will follow.
Above all, Heins stressed that the company was changing. "We recognize the need for change. There is a new culture at RIM," he said at the conference in San Jose, Calif..
Along with the details on the software, RIM also released a motivational music video on YouTube. Written to the tune of Speedwagon's "Keep On Loving You," the song says, "We're in transition, a whole new mobile computing platform, one tough proposition." It also reveals a bit about the phones: "The launch is just ahead. We'll have Blackberry 10, both in full touch and QWERTY editions."
RIM will announce its second quarter earnings on Thursday. RIM reported major losses last quarter, seeing a 33 percent drop from its previous quarter earnings and announcing 5,000 job cuts. The company did report today that its user base is at 80 million, up from 78 million at the end of the previous quarter.