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BB10 will have 'minimised' fragmentation, BlackBerry vows

We speak to BlackBerry about its new operating system, and whether differently sized screens will put off app developers.

The new BlackBerry operating system won't be plagued by the fragmentation issues that prove troublesome for Android, according to the company previously known as RIM.

Speaking to CNET UK at the launch of the Z10 and Q10 smart phones, BlackBerry's Andrew Bocking insisted that despite the company's two new devices having different-sized screens, developers wouldn't struggle to create apps that work across every BlackBerry 10 gadget.

On fragmentation, Bocking says, "We're very focused on making sure we minimise that for a developer audience.

"If you look at the Z10, and the physical keyboard device, the Q10, they share a similar LCD screen," the BlackBerry software product management bod said, "and that again is making sure it's easy for our BlackBerry 10 developer audience to build more applications."

BlackBerry has previously promised phones with Qwerty keyboards will have 720x720-pixel displays, whereas the company's touchscreen-only gadgets will have 720x1,280-pixel resolutions.

That's not including the recently revealed Z10 flagship, however, which has a 768x1,280-pixel screen -- apparently a quirk of the phone having been in development so long. Sounds to me like the different pixel count could annoy app-makers.

Bocking reckons having a virtual keyboard on touchscreen-only devices will make splicing apps across both smart phones simple, as the part of the display that's not taken up with on-screen keys will look identical to the same space on a Qwerty mobile.

I ask about games, which typically use all of a phone's touchscreen, and how that would translate to a mobile that was half-keyboard. "For pixel-perfect applications," Bocking said, "games really being the primary example of that, they will have to make changes to the layout just because of the screen size itself, overall, because there is a physical keyboard there.

"We've made it really really easy for [developers] to take their applications and make them available," Bocking said, though he did admit that game developers "will have a little more work to do".

"It's not a lot of work at all," he reassured me.

BlackBerry knows the success of its new operating system will come down to available apps -- where Android and iOS have an astonishing head-start. Rather than discussing processing power or display technology, BlackBerry's presentation today was all about software, and executive types who were more than happy to reel off big-name apps headed to BlackBerry 10 -- a list that included Skype, WhatsApp and Angry Birds.

But what if BlackBerry 10 doesn't take off? What if it's too little too late for the ailing firm, and its fledgling platform ends up squashed by the big boots of Android and iOS? BlackBerry has bet its last dollar on BB10, so I ask Bocking what the plan is if -- heaven forbid -- the new phones aren't popular?

"We're confident they will be."

Do you think BlackBerry 10 will be a success? Can it steal third place from Windows Phone, or is this the last we'll see of BlackBerry? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.