CES 2013: RIM Quietly Shows BlackBerry 10 in Suite Demo

Unlike last year, Research In Motion was not an official CES booth exhibitor this time around, but BlackBerry devotees got a sneak peek at the company’s new BlackBerry 10 at the Venetian Hotel. The touchscreen-only device does away with the BlackBerry’s iconic QWERTY keyboard and home button. RIM is set to officially unveil its two new BlackBerry units at a press conference January 30 in New York (originally scheduled for the fourth quarter).

The brand spanking new Blackberry L is believed to have front and back cameras, an HD display and the ability to shoot 768 x 1280. Although the company is reportedly also making available an alternate BlackBerry 10 N, with the keyboard, for diehard key devotees, it has apparently put great effort into making its touch keys responsive and short-cut friendly.

With 77 million BlackBerry users in the world (roughly 19 million of them in the U.S., according to a 2012 survey) RIM has a solid installed base to leverage for new sales, but is still in third place. U.S. Android users numbered 29.2 million for the same time period and iPhone aficionados 20.4 million.

RIM’s official 2013 CES presence was built around its QNX Software Systems automotive unit, which had a booth in the North Hall. QNX develops operating systems for smart cars based on the BlackBerry OS. Last year the group brought in a Porsche and this year it was a Bentley Continental GT convertible that served as the concept car for its QNX CAR application, platform 2.0.

Billed as “the connected cockpit of tomorrow,” the vehicle packed a massively, organically curved HD touchscreen in a center stack developed by Texas Instruments. QNX CAR features flexible smartphone integration (which lets you perform a variety of services, including talk and streaming music, from the phone), natural voice recognition (based on AT&T’s Watson), video conferencing and a custom Web app for monitoring the Bentley from afar. Other features include 3D navigation, an LTE radio modem and Wi-Fi hotspotting.

QNX VP sales and marketing Derek Kuhn said that with the rapid evolution of mobile devices, consumers have been conditioned for connectivity, “and the QNX CAR application platform was expressly designed to help automotive companies address those time-to-market expectations.”

Panasonic and Harman were also displaying automotive systems using the QNX CAR platform (in Harman’s case, for Audi, BMW and Chrysler).