WATERLOO, Ont. -- A hometown crowd cheered the new corporate name for Research In Motion and the new BlackBerry 10 phones as they were officially launched in New York City.

More than 150 local politicians and tech-savvy business people filled a hall in Waterloo, Ont., to watch RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins make a glitzy, Steve Jobs-style presentation of the new flagship product.

The crowd let out a roar as Heins flashed the smartphones, seen as make-or-break devices for the company -- a major employer in the Waterloo region.

They also cheered and applauded when RIM's new name -- BlackBerry -- was announced, although not quite as loudly.

The event kicked off a day of planned celebrations in the city, which has strung up BlackBerry street pole banners marking the launch.

Carl Zehr, the mayor of sister city Kitchener, says the BlackBerry 10 is a "game changer" that will boost sales for the embattled RIM.

But Zehr says the area's high tech industry has broadened beyond RIM in recent years, and can survive if the BlackBerry 10 falls short of expectations.

The BlackBerry Z10, a touchscreen model, will hit the shelves next Tuesday while the BlackBerry Q10, which will have a physical keyboard, will follow in April -- a move that was signalled last year by the company.