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BlackBerry 10 Shuns Apple Approach With International Roadshow

Yahoo! Finance
The Exchange

By Noel Hulsman, Insight Blog, YFinance Canada

As Research in Motion (RIMM) readies to release its BlackBerry 10 on Wednesday, it knows that it’s once again in the deep shadow of its Cupertino, Calif. rival.

Apple (AAPL), as we know, has long set the benchmark for big product launches. Even with a formula that’s been rolled out repeatedly in recent years, we in the media still rush to the scene, live blogging every image and utterance, then packaging up the whole fizzy affair for the front page.

(Read more: RIM’s risk: To think beyond the BlackBerry)

That’s the kind of splash RIM is aiming for when it unveils its latest, last-chance for the company. And although they have long resisted borrowing anything from the Apple playbook -- they certainly didn’t hurry to develop a decent browser for their phones – they’ve clearly seen the wisdom of mixing in a little mystery around the big reveal or lack there of.

Rather than one centralized debut, RIM will launch a series of simultaneous product events, unfolding in Toronto, New York, Paris, Dubai, London, Jakarta, Delhi and Johannesburg. Is there a primo event, bigger, splashier and more senior exec-filled than all of the rest? It depends on who you ask. In Canada most of the media will be flocking to the Carlu in downtown Toronto. Given that it’s a hometown brand, more or less, we’d like to think that this is the main show. After all, Apple has never seen the need to leave town to launch a product.

(Read more: CES 2013: In search of the next RIM)

But then, Toronto isn’t Silicon Valley, and Canada isn’t the U.S. Indeed, we provide a mere 4 per cent of RIM’s customers, far fewer than the U.S. (22 per cent) and the U.K. (11 per cent), and even less than Saudi Arabia (7 per cent), according to research produced by Byron Capital Markets analyst Tom Astle, as reported in the Globe and Mail this morning. In terms of key markets for the company, we’re on par with the Philippines.
So no, we’re not getting the main event tomorrow.

That would be New York, specifically the new Armin van Buuren-designed party zone Pier 36 on the East River. Although they’ve tried to emulate the Apple approach as closely as possible, divulging only the time and location of the announcement, it’s understood that it’s the dance club/concert hall that will be hosting CEO Thorsten Hein when he steps to the stage to handle the intros.

There he’ll announce both the prices and availability of the first of the two BB10 headsets. The first will offer a touch-screen keyboard, to be followed up by a version featuring the QWERTY type-pad that dates back to the origins of the BlackBerry. It’s expected that four more will follow, two all-touch and two with physical keyboards.

(Read more: Can RIM make a comeback with BlackBerry 10)

Of which, where do RIM’s roots feature amongst all of this unveiling on Wednesday? Sadly out of the spotlight. The light poles of Kitchener will feature BlackBerry banners this week, and there will be free selected skating at Kitchener-Waterloo rinks on Wednesday, a nod to the community that lives and breathes the BlackBerry, but the future of the firm is now out of their hands.