RIM has confirmed long-running rumours about the future of physical keyboards in its BlackBerry 10 mobile operating system, announcing the first smartphone running the new OS will ditch hard for virtual keys.
The announcement signals the first step in a shift in strategy as RIM struggles to compete with market leaders Apple and Google, and their touch-screen mobile devices.
BlackBerry's traditional QWERTY keyboard has been a key drawcard for its majority enterprise users.
The company will not ditch hard keys entirely. A spokesperson told the Seattle Times that future BB10 smartphones would launch with QWERTY keyboards.
The BlackBerry 10 mobile OS comes as RIM's smartphone sales plummet and it cedes market share to its rivals.
Last quarter, RIM's shipments dropped 25 percent from the 14.1 million shipped in the third quarter to 11.1 million. In March, Apple reported it had sold 37 million iPhones in its last quarter.
RIM announced last month that it would shed up to 6000 jobs globally in an effort save $1 billion in costs, after having cut 2000 jobs last July.
In March, RIM reported a massive $US2.2 billion ($A2.1 billion) drop in net profit for its 2012 financial year.
RIM is touting BB10's security and management features as it strives to shore up support in business markets.
"We plan to refocus on the enterprise business and capitalise on our leading position in this segment," Heins stressed.
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Issue: 315 | May 2013
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