QWERTY BlackBerry 10 phone will launch before June

CNET has learned that the full-keyboard version of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone will come shortly after the touch-screen version.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins. James Martin/CNET
No need to hit the panic button on Research In Motion yet; its BlackBerry 10 phones aren't facing any major delays, CNET has learned.

A report from Forbes, citing research firm Detwiler Fenton, said the Blackberry 10 devices wouldn't hit until March, and that the QWERTY version wouldn't come until June.

The bit about a June launch is inaccurate, according to a person familiar with the company's launch plans.

RIM is expected to unveil its devices on January 30, with a launch coming roughly four to six weeks after, so the first BlackBerry 10 phone may actually hit in March. The full touch-screen device is expected to launch first, while the qwerty version will come "shortly after," the company has said.

RIM's statement on the timing of the launch:

Details of the commercial availability for BlackBerry 10 will be announced at the global launch events on January 30. Our executives have made it clear that the touch screen device will be available shortly after launch with the physical keyboard version to follow shortly after that.

Still, the timing suggests RIM will report weaker results in the fourth and first quarters, with the BlackBerry 10 devices not having an impact until the end of the first quarter. RIM's stock has risen the past few weeks on optimism over the new products.

The touch-screen device is the priority for RIM because the U.S. has shifted to a largely touch-screen-only market. The company is banking that consumers who would normally buy an iPhone or Android phone will consider BlackBerry 10 instead.

The company, however, will need the full-keyboard version quickly to satisfy the still faithful existing BlackBerry customers who prefer the tactile sensation of actual keys. In fact, there are likely many past users reluctant to try a full touch-screen BlackBerry device given its poor history with that style of user interface.

Because the software is designed for touch devices, there was a little bit of additional work that went into tweaking it to run with the qwerty keyboard, the person said. That extra work likely means additional tests at the carriers as well.

While RIM hasn't defined what "shortly" means, the person said the qwerty BlackBerry 10 phone would come out before June.

 

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