BlackBerry launched their two new smartphones on 30 Jan: the Z10 (touchscreen) and Q10 (QWERTY). This has been a long time coming; RIM (now renamed BlackBerry) knew they had to move away from their old Java-based phones, and they've spent the last couple of years coming out with something really good. While the old CEOs screwed up their long-term strategies and nearly sunk the company, the new CEO, Thorsten Heins, has done an amazing job of keeping BlackBerry going while developing the new devices and OS.
The BlackBerry 10 OS is the key to it all. BB10 is built on top of QNX, a very highly available, highly multiprocessing operating system kernel used as the basis for all sorts of devices where the cost of failure is very high (for example, nuclear power plants, manufacturing systems, high-end Cisco routers and switches, and automotive management and infotainment systems used by companies like BMW, Audi, Cadillac, Jaguar, Land Rover, Acura, and many others). QNX supports 32 or 64 processors or more, even distributed across multiple devices. There are stories of QNX systems running for 15 years 24x7 without a single second's downtime (in that particular case, it was 15 years only because the Pentium 3 PC it was running on got stolen).
QNX is that ultrareliable core. BlackBerry "trialled" it in the Playbook tablets, and Playbook owners can tell how solid it is (I thing I've had to restart my Playbook fewer than 5 times in almost two years). It's ready for plenty of future expandability. Apple's iOS, by contrast, is old and tired, and it's multitasking capabilites (such as they are) are a poor afterthought. Android is being developed rapidly, but it's huge (as a comparison, the Android kernel code runs to around 14 million lines; QNX is only about 100000).
Here's an interesting article: History of QNX and its Implementation in BlackBerry 10
It looks like the BlackBerry developers have done a really good job of building an innovative and productive interface on top, and BlackBerry has done an outstanding job of getting developer support, launching with over 70000 apps (probably a lot more - in just the last couple of weekends, 34000 apps were ported to BB10), including almost all of the big apps needed by consumers.
There are changes, of course, to BlackBerry's BIS infrastructure, and to how things work, but they have an excellent base to build on for the next few software generations.
Here are some links:
If there were a fire, which of Stephen Fry's phones would he take?
BlackBerry 10 Operating System Review & Walkthrough
The only thing missing is that I don't have one; I am going to have to make a plan about that. Maybe I should be given one at work because I need to support them...