By JP Mangalindan
August 3, 2010


RIM’s latest offerings may determine whether the smart phone maker remains competitive in a market fiercely challenged by Android and Apple.

Well. We’re through here, the Blackberry Torch goes on sale at AT&T in two weeks. Look out for hands-on impressions, as well as thoughts from Google 24/7 blog editor Seth Weintraub.

12:25 Shockingly, no talk of specs during the presentation. At all. (“It’s all about the flow,” explained one BlackBerry exec.) But after some chit-chat, we were able to find out the BlackBerry Torch has a 3.2-inch 320 x 480 LCD screen. Just for comparison’s sake, that’s significantly smaller and lower-resolution compared to the iPhone 3GS, iPhone 4, and newer Android handsets, the last of now come equipped with 4.3-inch displays. Not terrible, but definitely not great.

11:48  The BlackBerry Torch goes on sale August 12 for a pretty standard $199 with two year data plan.

11:45  Expect a national TV, print and online advertising campaign to push Torch and BlackBerry 6. Christpher is now showing off their first TV spot now, a 15-second-ish hit-and-run bit with a spinning Torch unit and nondescript percussion heavy music.  “We think that’s a really cool spot.” Here’s another, longer version of the ad:

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2rMONyOsZ6Q&w=600&h=375]

11:44  David Christopher, Chief Marketing Officer for AT&T mobile, is now talking about how they plan to bring Torch to market.

11:35  Yach’s playing up simplified app discovery. (We have to admit, he seems nervous. Like, really nervous.). Carrier billing will let customers to add their app and content purchases to their AT&T bill. Nice little perk: Users can also try apps before they buy.

11:32  David Yach, Chief Technology Officer, is expanding upon BlackBerry 6 and Torch. We’ve expanded in several ways: easier to find apps and purchase apps.

[YouTube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N_w_t93ETcQ&w=600&h=375]

11:29  The Unified Social feeds pretty much does what it sounds like, combining your Twitter feeds, Facebook apps and RSS feeds all into one stream. “It plays on BlackBerry’s strength of app integration.”

11:27  Voila! Unified social media feeds.

11:26  WiFi music sync feature. You can see your entire library of music on your device and at any time browse it, search it, tag individual songs for synching at a later time. When you come home, your files automatically sync over your wireless network.

11:25  The BlackBerry camera now names your pictures by location. You can search by picture names and titles of cities. “We’ve added one app to the media suite. New podcast app. You can browse catalogs. You can download eps wirelessly via WiFi or the 3G network.”

11:24  Two finger tap gesture introduced for multiple selections.

11:23  “Enhanced media experiences.” Lindsay is introducing ability to view photos by folder or date and move media from folder to folder the device itself. (This was a cumbersome process before.)

11:21  Lindsay seems really jazzed about the Spotlight-like Universal Search. Real-time results appear as you’re typing: videos, emails, photos, etc. They’re opening the search up to third parties. (He’ll elaborate in a few.)

11:20  iOS-like notification previews. Provides different views of how you can view all your apps. Swipe left for most used apps. Swipe right for Favorited apps.

11:17  Totally redesigned home screen. Really about power. (Flexibility, flexibility, flexibility!!) Moving around the BlackBerry Torch, the touch screen, track pad, should be easier. Lindsay is now going to talk about the three major new feature areas of BlackBerry 6.

11:16  BlackBerry 6 UI Don Lindsay designer taking the stage. ” Despite all the new innovations… it has to remain familiar. it has to preserve all the expectations behind how all the features should work.”

11:14  BlackBerry CEO Jim Basillie is emphasizing the simplicity and streamlined media controls.

11:10  We called it: The BlackBerry Torch, the first “touch-based, QWERTY BlackBerry.” WebKit-based browser. Universal search.

11:04  A brief history of AT&T’s success. They were the first to introduce BlackBerry messaging back in 1999. Yada yada.

11:03  Ralph De La Vega taking the stage. “We’re introducing the best BlackBerry ever!”

11:00  We’re seated and ready to go.  Good news: WiFi inside (and you were worried?!) CORRECTION: Horrible reception issues. That’s what happens when you have 200-plus tech reporters with smartphones, laptops, MiFi routers, and TV equipment.

10:30  Line around the block…

10:00 am.  We’re on the scene with some possibly bad news for the liveblog prospects:

With handsets built using Google’s (GOOG) Android operating system now more popular than ever, and Apple’s (aapl) iPhone a close second, the question isn’t so much can these app-loving, feature-rich mobiles beat BlackBerry, but can BlackBerry stay in the game?

Phone manufacturer Research in Motion (RIMM) certainly hopes so. At 8 a.m. PST/11 a.m. EST today, the company will host an event in New York City where the company is expected to unveil the BlackBerry 6 operating system. Intended as a major overhaul to the creaky, enterprise-oriented BlackBerry OS, the update will demonstrate a cleaner, sleeker user interface with multi-touch; a robust search similar to Apple’s Spotlight; better controls for listening to music and watching videos; integrated Facebook and Twitter feeds; and a tabbed, modern browser that will finally make using the web easy on the phone.

Also expected: the long-rumored BlackBerry 9800, or Torch 9800. Believed to be similar in looks to previous BlackBerry handsets, the AT&T exclusive 9800 should feature BlackBerry 6 (naturally) and a slide-out QWERTY keyboard that resembles the BlackBerry Bold’s.

We’ll be live-blogging from the event, so be sure to refresh your browser windows frequently for the latest details. For now though, here’s a little teaser.

Here’s the FCC’s Blackberry 9800 Slider cutaway image via Engadget:

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