The conference focused on application development for enterprise users and highlighted the entirely new operating system and device. Not a line of code remains from the previous OS, said Nick Dawson, RIM’s director of enterprise sales, as he introduced the event Thursday morning at the Delta Ottawa City Centre.
While the final device was not shown and some secrets remain veiled, RIM revealed a new feature called BlackBerry Balance – two separate profiles within the same phone for work and home.
With the touch of a button and entry of a password, the user can access their work account without the risk of any of that data leaking onto their personal profile. Twitter, for example, could be downloaded twice onto the same phone, one for each profile, and stay logged in to each account respectively.
It also means that while the enterprise providing the cell phone can wipe clear the work account’s data if necessary, the personal account remains preserved.
This is a feature not seen in any other operating system currently on the market, said Joseph Matthews, a developer for the University of Ottawa.
“Right now, I have an Android device and when I link it to my work emails, (U of O) has complete access to wipe my device anytime they want. It’s not just the e-mails that are going to go. Something like this is definitely impressive,” he said.
Having worked with every platform out there, he said none match RIM in terms of the security features offered to enterprises.
The only problem?
“It can’t be here soon enough. We’re all waiting for it,” he said, adding that it’s already been too long of a wait.
The University of Ottawa currently uses BlackBerry as its mobile platform for staff and researchers, but employees have recently been given the choice to switch to whatever device they desire – a trend known as “bring your own device,” or BYOD.
This freedom is confusing for developers, said RIM enterprise mobility architect John Mutter, because they’re not sure for whom to develop. That’s why new software called BlackBerry Mobile Fusion allows for app development that can be used on any platform: BlackBerry, as well as “the other fruit company and the little green robot,” as Mr. Dawson referred to the competition.
“If you develop for one, you develop for all,” he said about the universal device service.
Another new feature called “the Hub” is a unified message inbox for e-mails, app notifications, social media and calendar items that can be lumped together or sorted by type.
Paul Dumais, director of local company Smarter Apps which develops solely for BlackBerry, attended the event. He is a former software architect of BlackBerry App World during employment with RIM, after working with local mobile software company Rove (since acquired by SolarWinds).
“We still think there is a lot of opportunity to make money on BlackBerry,” he said. “It’s a changing landscape now, and people have to adapt and change, but there’s still a big opportunity.”
But with any new technology, there are bound to be some kinks to work out.
“That’ll be an early issue for them to deal with,” he said.
The tour has been trotting the globe, making pit stops in large cities including Washington D.C. and London, U.K., but Mr. Dawson said the travelling show wouldn’t be complete without a trip to Ottawa.
“We wanted to bring this home to the birthplace of BlackBerry 10,” he said.
The team at QNX Software Systems, acquired by RIM in 2010 and headquartered in Ottawa, developed the operating system.
In an interview with OBJ, Mr. Mutter said that the success of the new BlackBerry iteration will depend largely on its developers.
“They come up with ideas that we haven’t even thought of,” he said.
BlackBerry 10 is set to be launched in the first quarter of 2013, according to RIM.