No QWERTY keyboard for first BlackBerry 10 phone

Research in Motion has revealed that the first smartphone to carry BlackBerry 10, its new mobile operating system, will not come with one of its trademark Qwerty keyboards. Instead, the handset will be geared up to take on the likes of the new iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S III.

Speaking to the Washington Post in the US, RIM's Rebecca Freiburger said that BlackBerry 10 would eventually come to keyboard-sporting devices, but declined to put a timescale on it.

This move is strange, considering that BlackBerry fans tend to be loyal to the company because it offers something rivals Apple, Samsung and others generally do not. BlackBerry handsets are traditionally known to be the best for messaging and emails because of the presence of a physical keyboard.

Analyst Colin Gillis, of BGC Financial, told the post that RIM's decision to lead with a touchscreen-only handset could be a big mistake. "The physical keyboard is the most dominant item that separates out Research In Motion from its competitors,” he said.

“If you are not playing to your historical strengths you may find it more difficult to get traction."

There's no indication yet when the new BB10 handset might be available, but if it looks anything like the Dev Alpha version Pocket-lint got to play with at the BlackBerry World conference in May, the touchscreen may not be the only thing RIM's new phone will have in common with Apple's.

Do you think it's a mistake to not include a keyboard on the first BB10 phone? Let us know in the comments below...