RIM CEO Thorstein Heins Tuesday reassured some 1,500 developers at the BlackBerry Jam Americas conference that the company's BlackBerry10 smartphones are on track to launch in next year's first quarter.
The opening of the event in San Jose may best be remembered for a humorous music video recorded by staffers at the beleaguered Research in Motion as part of an effort to appeal to the coveted developers building the apps needed for the company's next generation smartphone.
RIM created the YouTube music video with its executives singing a familiar REO Speedwagon song with these doctored lyrics: "We're gonna keep on loving you ... Our updated SDK is really cool."
Video created for developers at the BlackBerry Jam Americas conference.
Heins said beta versions of the BlackBerry10 devices will be sent to carrier labs next month.
He added that some top companies are already beta testing BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10.
RIM had been promising device launches early in 2013, and Heins refined the message to say they are on track for first quarter.
"We are convinced this platform will shape the next 10 years as profoundly and positively as BlackBerry shaped the last decade," Heins said. "We are excited about our future."
Heins also said the new smartphone will include native apps from Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, Foursquare and others.
Even though RIM's stock is down nearly 60% this year and RIM's share of smartphones has fallen to about 5% globally, officials said there's been a recent increase in users.
Heins said there are about 80 million RIM customers worldwide, up from 78 million in the second quarter.
Also, he said, there are 60 million BlackBerry Messenger subscribers and 60 million users of BlackBerry's Facebook app, showing RIM's strength in social networking.
Falling just four days after a short disruption in RIM's messaging service in Europe and Africa, Hein's optimism didn't appeal to everybody.
Aside from network issues, the biggest concern of critics is that RIM has taken too long to bring new smartphones to market.
"I'm excited about what Heins has discussed BlackBerry 10," said independent analyst Jeff Kagan. "However, it is still taking much too long to bring these updates to the market. At the same time, RIM continues to be eaten up by competitors."
Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed . His e-mail address is [email protected].
Read more about smartphones in Computerworld's Smartphones Topic Center.