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RIM offers sneak peek at new BB10 phones

The company is working hard to woo developers and consumers enamoured by Android and Apple.

(Photo: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg/Getty)

On Aug. 23, Research In Motion hosted hundreds of developers in Kitchener, Ont., for its hometown edition of the company’s BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour events.

For many it was an occasion for optimism, a word uttered in the same breath with “RIM” about as often as “platypus” over the last year. According to the company, it was a sold-out show, an encouraging sign amid reports that developers have been jumping ship to more popular platforms. After seeing what the company had to offer, developer Murtaza Saadat told The Globe & Mail, “It’s pretty impressive. What they’ve shown is a huge step forward.”

RIM also invited a handful of journalists to get their ink-stained paws on two of the new BB10 phones—one featuring a full touchscreen and another a hybrid with a QWERTY keyboard. And they are indeed handsome. Without revealing anything covered in the non-disclosure agreement, it’s safe to say these models, along with the operating system, should easily put BlackBerry back in the conversation among mobile leaders.

Independent tech analyst Carmi Levy told BNN, “If technology were the only indicator of business success then RIM would be in great shape. Of course, now it has to convince the market. With technology like this, it has a fighting chance to at least take its best shot early next year.”

And therein may lie the biggest challenge for RIM’s new gadgets. The technology and hardware is top notch, but the next step is to get it into people’s hands and convince consumers to give BlackBerry another chance. Because of delays, BB10 will have some tough acts to follow, including the iPhone 5 and Nokia’s new Windows 8 phone offerings, both slated for a fall release.

BlackBerry is getting to the party late and has to make not just a big impact, but the right one. (Not everyone does that at parties.) To get all those consumers who have flocked to Android and Apple over the last few years to give it even a passing glance, the company will have to hit a marketing homerun.

To get any of the legions of consumers who have flocked to Android and Apple over the last few years to give its new toys even a passing glance, the company will have to overcome one of its biggest weaknesses and hit a marketing homerun. A tall order to be sure, but considering what RIM is selling, it’s one worth swinging for the fences.