Ottawa high-tech firms hang hopes on BlackBerry 10
BlackBerry 10 released around the world as RIM changes to single 'BlackBerry' brand
Ottawa-based high-tech firm QNX, which developed much of the new BlackBerry 10, is hoping for a big day as the new smartphone hits the shelves and Research in Motion rebrands itself.
CEO Thorsten Heins revealed the new smartphone just before 10:30 a.m. ET Wednesday. He also announced Research in Motion would no longer exist under that name, but instead it was rebranded as a single brand called "BlackBerry."
Sabastien Marineau, senior VP of software at the company formerly-known as RIM and responsible for all QNX research and development, was at the BlackBerry headquarters in Waterloo, Ont., this week preparing for the launch.
He said the new phone will be good for the company, its affiliates and those looking for work in the high-tech sector.
"This is really the start, not the end, and to continue building on initial software we really need to continue bolstering the teams and hiring great talent," said Marineau.
"We typically have in our software division a couple hundred positions that are posted."
Professor Barry Cross, who teaches business at Queen's University, is also a former executive with Magna International, Autosystems Manufacturing and DuPont.
He said any little glitches that might pop up with the new Blackberry 10 need to be resolved immediately.
Cross also said one new product will not turn BlackBerry around but if the company does it right, it should be able to capitalize on the positive attention.
"The need to follow it up in six months, nine or 12 months with the next product or the next device and just keep moving in the right direction," he said.
Tech companies leaning heavily on BlackBerry revival
In Ottawa, software developer Macadamian, whose clients include Cisco, Microsoft, BitTorrent, Kobo and Telus, is hitching its wagon on BlackBerry's ride.
Of its 200 employees located in offices in Gatineau, Que., Silicon Valley in San Jose, Calif., Romania and Armenia, a quarter of them are working on applications for the new BlackBerry 10.
CEO Frédéric Boulanger left Corel 15 years ago and started Macadamian in a tiny 1,000-square-foot space. The Gatineau office is now a sprawling 10,000-square-foot space that, among other things, creates apps — a $17 million per year business.
Boulanger said he is confident BlackBerry 10 will return BlackBerry, if not to the top where it once was, at least into a competitive position against the Apple and Samsung devices that delivered a knockout punch to the tech giant.
"Being number one, they didn't really see or listen to what was going on in the market and I can assure you now that this is behind them. They really have been humbled by the experience," he said.
"They're building their way back up and (BlackBerry 10) is certainly promising."