As it heads toward its crucial launch of the BlackBerry 10 platform and devices at the end of this month, Research In Motion is beginning to put the final pieces together. On Wednesday, for instance, the company said more than 1,600 businesses in North America have registered for the BB10 training program, and the app library is beginning to grow into the tens of thousands.
The training effort is part of the BB10 Ready Program, launched in early December. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company said a "broad range" of businesses from various industries were participating, including Fortune 500s, government agencies and major retailers.
About a thousand of the participants have already started their training, which is designed to familiarize customers with BlackBerry Enterprise Server 10. RIM said the server is being beta-tested at more than 130 major enterprises and government agencies in North America. The BB10 platform and at least two of the 10 BB10 models for 2013 will debut Jan. 30.
A document, reportedly an internal communication from Canadian wireless carrier Rogers, has been leaked on the Web, and it contends that RIM will have 70,000 apps and 20 million songs available when the platform launches. Additionally, RIM Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben told news media earlier this month that more than 70,000 apps are now ready.
About 15,000 apps were created over the past weekend. Starting at midnight on Friday and lasting for the next 37.5 hours, RIM held a Port-A-Thon "porting party" for developers to convert existing apps for the new platform. Each app that was approved for BlackBerry App World received $100, and the first 200 developers who converted five to 10 apps got a BlackBerry Dev Alpha device. The first 10 developers to have more than 10 approved apps received a trip to BlackBerry Jam Europe.
On Wednesday, RIM said Visa had approved its security management system for making mobile payments using a near field communications (NFC) chip in its mobile devices. The system is called Secure Element Manager, and the infrastructure is managed globally by RIM. BB10 smartphones are expected to have NFC chips and the capability to encrypt mobile payment data , process authentication, and conduct other processes to make a mobile payment.
De-Emphasizing Real Keys
The purported specs of a BB10 smartphone have also appeared on the Web, reportedly as leaked information. They present a BB10 L-series phone with a 4.2-inch, 1280x768 touchscreen, 2 GB of memory, 16 GB of internal storage, a front-facing 2 megapixel camera with 720p video recoding, and a back-facing 8 megapixel camera with LED flash, auto focus, 5X digital zoom and the ability to record 1080p video. RIM declined to comment on the reported specs.
Meanwhile, developers have said they have not received BB10 smartphones with physical keyboards, only on-screen touch ones -- another indication that RIM will be de-emphasizing its previous emphasis on real keys.
The physical keyboard was a key signature of the product line, and the BlackBerry name reportedly came from the idea that the tiny black keys resembled the tasty fruits. A company spokesperson said prototype devices with physical keyboards will be released, but not until after the Jan. 30 launch.