Research in Motion began fighting for its life Tuesday as it unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 operating system to developers.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins unveiled the new operating system for BlackBerry devices to developers in California’s Silicon Valley during the 2012 BlackBerry Jams America conference.

“We are committed to building an entirely new flexible platform with great tool kits that help us to succeed, that help you to succeed…and our customers to succeed,” Heins said.

The key element of the new operating system is the integrated and seamless view of a single communications hub, which can hold whatever applications the user chooses: for example, the calendar, email, Twitter and Facebook.

“The BlackBerry hub allows people to flow from conversations and actions with the touch of one finger,” Heins said.

“Gone are the days of the in-and-out paradigm, and the home button.”

Vivek Bhardwaj, the head of software for BlackBerry, demonstrated the new communications hub after Heins’s opening speech.

The hub allows users to flow between applications, rather than hitting their phone’s home button every time they want to open a new app.

Bhardwaj also showed off new BlackBerry Messenger features, including the ability to switch languages in real time.

“The individual pieces are not the point,” Heins said. “The really spectacular element of BlackBerry 10 is how do they work together.”

The company hopes that developers and programmers can get a jump start on creating applications and programs for the new platform, which is expected to be released early next year.

“What we’ve shown you today of BlackBerry 10 so far is designed to support all of you in building integrated, social and beautiful applications on BlackBerry 10,” Heins said.

Heins also pointed out that not all features of the new operating system were being unveiled Tuesday. He said the company is “keeping a few surprises” for the official launch.

Tech industry analyst Carmi Levy described the conference as a make or break moment for the company.

“This event is absolutely crucial in getting those developers to buy into RIM’s latest edition and create those amazing apps that people are going to want to buy so much that they’re going to be willing to buy the device,” Levy told CTV’s Canada AM before the announcement.

He said Apple has created a new standard in the smartphone world. Consumers not only want a phone that is slick and technically advanced, but also one that has a wide variety of applications available, which add value to the phone itself.

“Apple has really proven the model here that you’re only as good as the number and quality of your apps. If you have an empty app store nobody wants to buy your device.”

Levy said RIM has focused all its efforts on the new device, which is meant to replace the BlackBerry 7, which has been surpassed by Android and Apple products in recent years.

As a result, the stakes are high for the company.

“They’ve put all their hopes, all their dreams into this one product, one platform. If it takes off obviously the company is well prepared for whatever comes next. It will grow from there. If it fails to grab customers’ attention, there’s not a whole lot behind it for RIM to try again. This is their one shot, they’ve got to hit it out of the park.”

Adding pressure to RIM executives is the fact the company will report its financial results for the past quarter on Thursday. The company is expected to report a drop in sales of roughly 41 per cent in a year-over-year comparison of the same quarter last year.

RIM has warned it will continue to experience losses until a new product is in the pipeline, Levy said.

Perhaps more importantly, analysts will be watching for the total number of BlackBerry subscribers in the last quarter. Despite the company’s travails in recent years, it has always experienced growth in subscribers. If that number falls from the 78 million in the previous quarter, investors could react negatively, Levy said.