RIM to Change Direction with BlackBerry London

RIM to Change Direction with BlackBerry London

RIM’s BlackBerry London offers “significant changes,” including a new design and OS 10, as the struggling company bets big to regain its former luster.

A leaked photo of the sleek BlackBerry London, at CrackBerry.com, offers a glimpse at one of the first devices that would run RIM’s new BlackBerry 10 OS. It’s slated to hit shelves in the U.K. later this year, with similar Laguna and Lisbon models in development for U.S. carriers.

RIM is facing a steep climb back to its former perch in the mobile market users at a time when Apple and Google’s Android devices are dominating the smartphone market. But the London offer clues into how the company will shift to compete.

The full touchscreen device features rounded corners and a slim, all-black casing, mimicking popular smartphone designs like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy and putting a premium on design. Appearing like a smaller, phone-version of the PlayBook, the recently leaked photo reflects updates from the London version previewed at the end of 2011.

After reported delays in BlackBerry 10 implementation and launch dates, the London’s new style could be proof of RIM’s latest attempt to stay relevant — offering BlackBerry devices that look nothing like what has come before.

The new look could be a response to past criticism RIM wasn’t able to innovate and diversify its products. The London follows faulty attempts to get touch devices off the ground, like hardware issues that cancelled the Milan. However, the London reveals RIM is intent on keeping promises that game-changing Blackberry 10 devices are coming.

In likely attempts to differentiate, RIM is calling its BlackBerry 10 devices “superphones.”

Rumors of the phone’s specs seem to support the moniker. BlackBerry 10 is a spinoff of QNX software that runs on the PlayBook tablets. The device is likely supported by speedy chipsets, with TI OMAP5 and Qualcomm processors reportedly being tested.

Release dates suggest this next generation of BlackBerry phones will face competition from the next iPhone, and ever-evolving Android devices, the same type of options that lured away former BlackBerry users. The consensus of analysts is that the earliest these devices could hit the market is September 2012, a major lag in the fast-moving mobile market.

Parallel to new device stylings, the latest word from BlackBerry officials, including new CEO Thorsten Heins, is that the company is making “significant changes.

With the London, and BlackBerry 10, RIM is promising a “dramatic shift in UI experience.” If these early glimpses are any indication, RIM may surprise with its superphones, but that might not come soon enough to keep RIM from lagging in the marketplace.

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