New BlackBerry to launch January 30
OTTAWA - The launch for the new BlackBerry 10 platform will be held January 30, as smartphone maker Research in Motion tries to regain traction against surging rivals.
The Canadian firm said Monday the launch "will happen simultaneously in multiple countries around the world."
The struggling tech firm will unveil two new smartphones as well as the BlackBerry 10 operating system, aimed at regaining momentum against smartphones from Apple and those using Google's Android operating system.
"In building BlackBerry 10, we set out to create a truly unique mobile computing experience that constantly adapts to your needs," RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins said.
"Our team has been working tirelessly to bring our customers innovative features combined with a best in class browser, a rich application ecosystem, and cutting-edge multimedia capabilities. All of this will be integrated into a user experience -- the BlackBerry Flow -- that is unlike any smartphone on the market today."
The launch comes with RIM, once the dominant smartphone maker, rapidly losing market share.
RIM's stock price has fallen to its lowest level since 2003, and in June the company shed 5,000 staff or 30 percent of its workforce.
According to research firm IDC, BlackBerry's market share continued to sink, falling to just over four percent of the worldwide market by the end of the third quarter, as Android garnered 75 percent.
The BB10 itself was to have been launched in late 2010, but the company in June announced a delay, a move which means it will miss the critical holiday shopping period.
If it fails to impress, observers are predicting the end of RIM.
Heins, who was brought in at the start of the year to replace RIM founders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis and turn around the company, announced last week that BB10 encryption has been certified as secure for use by government agencies and others dealing with sensitive information.
The announcement aimed at RIM's traditional key business and governmental customers, came after the Pentagon ended its exclusive deal with RIM to supply its vast workforce with Blackberry smartphones.
Another government agency, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency, also said it was dropping the Blackberry device altogether in favor of Apple's iPhone.
The US military and intelligence agencies have long preferred the Blackberry due to security concerns and had worried that Apple, Android and other smart phones lacked sufficient safeguards.
But the technology has advanced and Pentagon officials said innovative applications available on other smartphones could be useful for different units or offices.
Recently, RIM showcased its success in emerging markets, but analysts noted that the company is initially losing money in this push for market share.
Unmoved by the BB10 launch announcement, they are keeping their valuations of RIM unchanged, for now.
"We believe BB10 may be able to generate traction, but only as a Tier-2 device or even a Tier-3 device, in line with the current BB products," said Northern Securities analyst Sameet Kanade.
Jeffries Group noted that RIM will also see increased competition from Microsoft entering the fray with its Windows 8 operating system, "attempting to establish W8 as the third mobile ecosystem."
The two new BB10 devices, one with a QWERTY keyboard and one with a touchscreen, according analysts, will offer a catalogue of new applications, including games, productivity, social, lifestyle and leisure, multimedia and published content, as well as apps designed for business and enterprise use.
Messages, notifications, feeds and calendar events will be organized in a "hub" that can be checked "with a simple gesture" while working on other applications.
Users will also be able to keep personal applications and information separate from work data.
More than 50 carriers are currently testing the new device, and more are expected in the coming weeks.
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