BlackBerry 10 makes its debut in the United States in the form of the BlackBerry Z10 on AT&T today. TechnoBuffalo spoke with Richard Piasentin, vice president and managing director for U.S. at BlackBerry about the company's launch plans, how it plans to compete with new devices such as the HTC One and Samsung Galaxy S4, and what we can expect in the near future.
BlackBerry decided to launch the Z10 before the Q10 in the United States. It seemed like a bizarre first step because the company has long been known and loved for its QWERTY keyboard smartphones.
Piasentin explained that the decision was made because BlackBerry found that more than 85 percent of consumers are using all-touch smartphones. "From an engineering perspective the OS for the Z10 was the most complete," he added. "It's easier for us now to go to a physical keyboard, but we had to nail the onscreen keyboard technology. We do harbor a belief that we will be able to convert die-hard keyboard users to the same efficiency but in the on-screen side. We will see a significant portion of those folks make the migration to a full screen experience."
AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon will all carry the BlackBerry Z10 in the United States, but Sprint decided to sit on the sidelines for that phone and will instead only offer the BlackBerry Q10. Piasentin reassured us that Sprint is still dedicated to BlackBerry 10 and even addressed the rumors surrounding a possible exclusive new all-touch Blackberry for the carrier."Z10 is only the beginning," he said. "We will be deploying many devices into the market, Blackberry 10 is the beginning of something larger than just the smartphone business," he added noting that the foundation of BlackBerry 10, QNX, is already used in products ranging from in-car entertainment systems to satellites. "It's [BlackBerry CEO] Thorsten Heins' job privilege to speak to the market about the new devices we're bringing out."
But what about smartwatches? Apple, Samsung, Google and even LG are rumored to have them on the horizon – will BlackBerry enter the same space?
"We think connected things will continue to become more and more relevant in everyone's day to day life," Piasentin explained. "We will take BlackBerry 10 into multiple domains."
Piasentin also addressed our concerns that BlackBerry has a tough battle ahead against the Samsung Galaxy S4 and the HTC One. "The feedback I'm getting from our carrier, enterprise and government partners is fantastic," he said, shrugging off any worry that those devices are likely to be big hits in the consumer space in the coming months.
BlackBerry isn't planning to slow down anytime soon. Piasentin said that the company's BlackBerry Live show, which will take place this May at the same time as the Google I/O developer conference, will be loaded with surprises. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out the energy level will be stratospheric," he said, without confirming or denying that we'll see new devices and hardware at the show.