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RIM tantalizes crowd with BB10 demo

Some 5,000 Research In Motion application developers and partners were wowed Tuesday by the first public demonstration of the capabilities of next-generation BlackBerry 10 operating system.

"This takes is unto new era of computing way beyond smartphones," declared CEO Thorsten Heins.

Although he cautioned that there are still a few "secrets" RIM is hiding from competitors until its release "later this year," Heins and company staff showed three capabilities;

--running applications can be layered on top of each other in a staggered way, and pushed aside with a swipe. RIM calls this a glancing gesture;

--the virtual keyboard not only learns what words you prefer when you type, the words it anticipates appear above the letter you hit. If you want the word, flick it up and it appears in the message;

--the biggest crowd pleaser was an aid for the digital camera, which can roll back a few seconds before a photo is snapped to catch subject when their eyes are open.

See video of the demonstration

It was important for Heins and RIM staff to impress the audience, which includes many of the companies corporate and carrier customers, to show that it will soon have a platform that can grab the attention of handset buyers.

RIM has been steadily losing market share to iPhone and Android handset buyers, leaving mobile telecom managers and devlopers in doubt about investing in its future.

One industry analyst said today's morning keynotes --- which included promises from gaming and application development companies to support BB10 -- at least accomplished part of that.

"They did what they needed to do today," said Michael Gartenberg, vice-president of research at Gartner.

"It was a good presentation," he said of Heins' first effort in the spotlight after being appointed CEO three months ago. And he acknowledged that the operating system will have features that differentiate it from competitors.

"RIM's definitely in the game," he said.

But, he added, "it's going to take a lot of effort for them to deliver all they showed."

RIM is using this event to accelerate developer, customer and partner interest in BB10. Starting today, registered developers get a prototype handset to run early versions of their applications on an early version of the operating system. Beta versions of software developer kits were also released.

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