The first BlackBerry device running Research In Motion Ltd's new operating software will feature only a touch-screen keyboard.
The BlackBerry 10 software would be offered on devices with physical keyboards in future, but RIM spokeswoman Rebecca Freiburger declined to specify by when. The company is expected to start selling BlackBerry 10 touch-screen devices this year.
Top-selling smartphones these days, including Apple Inc's iPhone, and others running Google's Android software, do not have physical keyboards. However, RIM's attempts in the past to offer touch-only phones have largely failed.
Many corporate users have stuck to BlackBerry largely due to its physical keyboard, given a perception that it was harder to type emails on a touch screen. The BlackBerry 10 system has already been delayed by about a year, and with additional delays likely corporate users may not be willing to wait for a physical keyboard, given that the iPhone was making greater in-roads in corporate settings. They may simply go for the new iPhone expected this fall according to analysts.
RIM is depending on the BlackBerry 10 system, which will offer multimedia, internet browsing and apps experience customers are demanding now. The Canadian company plans to launch the new software later this year, just as increasing numbers of Americans are turning to iPhones and Android devices.
According to some analysts, it was puzzling that RIM was not leading with its strength by releasing a keyboard BlackBerry first.