BlackBerry Z10 is impressive, but can it save the company?

Ailing Canadian smartphone manufacturer has one last throw of the dice

LAST UPDATED AT 09:33 ON Thu 31 Jan 2013

THE COMPANY behind the BlackBerry smartphone has unveiled two new handsets, one featuring a touchscreen, and launched a new operating system in a "last chance" attempt to regain lost ground in its battle with Apple and other rivals.

The move amounts to a relaunch for the struggling Canadian firm, which has also changed its name from Research in Motion to BlackBerry, and it could determine whether it survives in the increasingly competitive mobile market.

Singer Alicia Keys was on hand at the event in New York to add her glamour to the launch, having been appointed BlackBerry's "global creative director". But the star of the show was the new Z10 touchscreen handset, which will take on the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy.

The Times says BlackBerry is "staking its future" on the success of the Z10, and the Daily Mail calls the launch "a desperate attempt to rival the iPhone and revive its flagging sales".

Another new device, the Q10, featuring a traditional BlackBerry-style QWERTY keyboard, was also unveiled. Both will run using the new BB10 software, which is similar to the Android and iPhone operating systems.

"This is either the beginning or the end for BlackBerry," says Tech Crunch, and the BBC agrees. "In future years the launch of BlackBerry 10 may be seen as the firm's turnaround - or the moment its fate was doomed."

The stakes are certainly high. "There has never been more pressure on a single device than there is on the BlackBerry Z10," says the Daily Telegraph.

The paper adds that it appears to be a "very good device" but fears "it's not quite enough, not quite soon enough."

The Guardian complains that it lacks a unique selling point. "For the average consumer... the Z10 is just another black mirror when locked and just another touchscreen phone when unlocked."

Tech website CNet agrees. "For BlackBerry fans there's much to be excited about, but whether it offers enough to tempt iOS and Android users to switch remains to be seen."

Others are more positive. The New York Times says: "It's lovely, fast and efficient, bristling with fresh, useful ideas." Importantly, it also comes fully formed. "The iPhone, Android and Windows Phone all entered life missing important features. Not this one; BlackBerry couldn't risk building a lifeboat with leaks."

Website Mashable says it will be a shame if the Z10 fails - "because this phone can, in some surprising ways, be a real joy to use". · 

For further concise, balanced comment and analysis on the week's news, try The Week magazine. Subscribe today and get 6 issues completely free.