Well, the BlackBerry 10 release is finally happening today. We’ll be live blogging the press conference starting at 10AM ET, but before we kick off, let’s recap what to expect. The BlackBerry 10 live blog will start below the background information.

Live Blog

11:12AM: Alicia Keys is BlackBerry’s new Global Creative Director. WTF? I mean… RIM BlackBerry is saved!!

11:10AM: Pricing will come out as carriers announce pre-registration. AllThingsD reports the U.S. launch will be mid-March.

11:01AM: Launching with 70,000+ applications. “Yes, we have Skype committed to BlackBerry10.” Also names Kindle, SAP, Angry Birds, and some others.

10:59AM: He’s talking about the content partners – film, music, etc.

10:56AM: “Story Maker” is a way to thread together various media – photos, videos, music – into a single media file.

10:55AM: They’re showing off some camera features. Not so much specs as some easy editing features to help not get someone when their eyes are closed etc.

10:52AM: BlackBerry Remember – basically a to do list app.

10:48AM: Now talking about BBM – BlackBerry Messenger. And they’re introducing BBM Video, similar to Apple’s Facetime. Also BBM screenshare, to share what’s on your screen. So say you’re watching a cool YouTube video, or whatever else. You share your screen with someone else and dictate what they see. In the example on stage they’re showing off photos.

10:45AM: We knew they’d emphasize the idea that they’re great for enterprise. Right now they’re showing off the balance between work and personal; there’s actually a toggle between two separate ecosystems of content, apps, and activity. Your CIO “controls the corporate part of the device,” but the personal side of the house offers some additional user privacy.

10:41AM: OK, here’s the bit about the Z10 keyboard. Instead of typing and then tapping at what the algorithm guesses, you’re “flicking” words into an email or text based on what the phone is guessing you might say next.

10:37AM: Now they’re talking about “the Hub.” Think of a screen that looks like your notifications, but that allows you to interact with those apps without opening them. So someone wants to add you on Facebook; you confirm without opening the Facebook app.

10:34AM: We’re seeing BlackBerry Flow, the scroll between apps and experiences. The key here is a “fast, fluid, reversible gesture” that allows you to “peek” at notifications without leaving the actual experience you’re in. See the photo below:

10:33AM: Photo via The Verge

via The Verge

10:31AM: He’s showing off the Q10, complete with physical keyboard.

10:29AM: OK, here we go. The two new phones are on stage. For the Z10: 4.2″ screen, 356 PPI.

10:26AM: RIM has changed its name to BlackBerry, to unify the brands. “It is one brand.”

10:22AM: From mobile communications to “true mobile computing.” He references the internet of things; you won’t just be connected to people, but to everything.

10:20AM: Built for those who are “the true multi-taskers,” “hyper-connected socially,” and who like “getting things done.” He’s clearly referencing the company’s legacy in the work environment, but emphasizing that BlackBerry10 will be the one stop shop for work and play.

10:17AM: CEO Thorsten Heins has taken the stage.

10:09AM: OK, we’re under way. The livestream has started with RIM sharing comments from developers around the world talking about what they like about BlackBerry10.

9:15AM: We’ll be getting started shortly. Stay tuned. And feel free to offer thoughts, predictions, etc. in the comments.

Background

So obviously today is the release of RIM’s new mobile operating system, BlackBerry10, which the company hopes can reverse its slide into near irrelevance in the smartphone market. We’ll also see the launch of the first two phones for BlackBerry10, the Z10 and X10. Photos of the touchscreen Z10 for Verizon leaked last week; we should hear more about the X10, keyboard and all, today. Sprint, T-Mobile, and AT&T are all expected to support BlackBerry1o phones, and RIM claims its app store will have 70,000 apps for BlackBerry10 at launch.

So will all of this be enough to make RIM and BlackBerry a major player again? Depends on who you ask. RIM has been all but vanquished from the U.S. smartphone market, holding 1.6 percent of that market at the end of last year. However, the company has seen more success in international markets.

The optimistic case for RIM was made yesterday by Rachel Metz at Technology Review:

RIM still has roughly 79 million BlackBerry subscribers, many of them enterprise customers who have stuck with the company for a long time, and its devices are popular in emerging markets like Indonesia, where they cost considerably less than high-end smartphones.

At Quartz, Chris Mims made the pessimistic case:

…with RIM shedding customers in emerging markets, it’s not clear that BlackBerry 10 will allow it do anything more than hang onto the minority of its existing customers who are already on high-end devices. If that’s the case, RIM’s global market share could soon be as little as 1% or less, making the company little more than a curiosity, and eventually leading to an exodous of developers to other platforms. And without developers, no modern smartphone manufacturer can survive.

So here’s what to watch for…

1) Any big enterprise partnerships that might boost domestic adoption. Agreements with government agencies or large corporations who will subsidize adoption for their employees.

2) Strategy and pricing for international markets. What is said with regards to Mims’ point about the high price of these high end devices with respect to adoption outside the U.S. and particularly in developing economies.

3) Response from developers. I was speaking with uTest’s CMO yesterday about its launch this morning of the Applause mobile app analytics tool. Currently it crawls the Apple and Google app stores. Next up, they’d thought, would be either Windows or Amazon. But now BlackBerry is in the mix. We’ll see what the development community has to say, but if RIM can win developer support that’ll be a big deal.