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BlackBerry's new BB10 operating system
IF you're a fan of BlackBerry - remember them? - this has been a pretty big week.
The Canadian smartphone manufacturer has seemingly lurched from one crisis to another for the last few years. Sales of top-end phones have fallen and the company has sustained itself by flogging cheaper copies to teenagers - not a recipe for long-term success.
Some corporates have kept faith with BlackBerry because they appreciate the security features built into the Messenger service, but in the past 12 months, even they have started to drift away.
According to one Japanese newspaper this week, BlackBerry is to pull out of Japan because it can't justify the cost of localising its phones.
The only thing BlackBerry fans have had to look forward to was BB10, the latest version of the phone-operating system, which promised great things. Only BB10 was supposed to be here a couple of years ago. The software update kept getting pushed back as bugs and mounting losses made getting a BB10 into stores an uphill struggle.
Well, the wait is finally over and users in the UK will be among the first to find out if it was worth it.
The handset carrying the weight of BlackBerry's expectations is called the Z10.
It's a touch screen - although you'll be able to get a version with BlackBerry's famous keyboard, too - and it needs to be good if it is to stop the company haemorrhaging sales to Android and Apple.
First the good news: it's very solid and has a very sharp 4.2-inch screen that's actually better than the iPhone.
You turn it on by swiping up the screen (no on/off button here) to reveal a series of tiles, just like an Android handset or an iPhone.
In fact, a lot of what you can accomplish requires finger gestures - BB10 is much more of a touch-orientated operating system than either iOS (that's Apple's operating system) or the Android OS used in the Galaxy S111 etc.
You have to swipe up, swipe down, swipe right and swipe left to get it to do things.
Thankfully, the screen is very sensitive and, after a short learning curve, I reckon most users will learn to adjust.
The BlackBerry Messenger service now includes video and allows you to share your phone's screen with the person you are messaging.
BlackBerry reckons the on-screen keyboard is the best ever on a touch screen. However, it said that about the Storm's keyboard and anyone who has ever used that device can testify that it was a nightmare. Blackberry seems to be pinning its hopes on aggressive text prediction that should make mistakes and unnecessary key presses a thing of the past.
Extensive personalisation is also possible.
Swiping down gives access to a work skin that changes the look and behaviour of the handset for when you're concentrating on getting things done. The personal skin is all about social networking and entertainment.
And now for the bad news: there aren't that many apps available. BlackBerry isn't saying exactly how many are on sale in its app store, but most observers reckon the number could be less than 50,000. Compare that to the 500,000 you'll find for an Android handset.
However, most of the major apps are already available and more are coming.
Just how much third party support BlackBerry can muster could be the difference between success and failure for the new Z10.
The company has an enormous amount of work to do if it is to mount a credible challenge to iOS and Android. After all, even Microsoft and Nokia are struggling to establish Windows 8 as a genuine alternative to the big two.
However, many former BlackBerry users have warm feelings towards their old handsets- remember when they were called Crackberries because people were addicted to them? - so it's not beyond the bounds of plausibility to suggest BB10 could mark the beginning of a fight back.
For now, though, the jury is still out.