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RIM announces launch date for Blackberry 10, shares rise in premarket

Research In Motion (RIM) (TSE:RIM) Monday said that it will officially launch the new BlackBerry 10 platform and two new smartphones on January 30.
RIM announces launch date for Blackberry 10, shares rise in premarket

Research In Motion (RIM) (TSE:RIM) Monday said that it will officially launch the new BlackBerry 10 platform and two new smartphones on January 30.

The news sent shares in the company 4.26-per-cent higher in premarket hours, trading at $8.56, as the date of the launch is in keeping with RIM's latest guidance for the first quarter of 2013. 

The company’s new operating system has recently achieved government certification, it said, marking the first time BlackBerry products have been certified ahead of their launch. In addition, RIM said BlackBerry 10 smartphones have now entered more than 50 carrier labs with “many more entries” expected in the coming weeks.

The highly anticipated launch event will happen simultaneously in several countries around the world.

"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," said CEO Thorsten Heins.

“All of this will be integrated into a user experience - the BlackBerry Flow - that is unlike any smartphone on the market today.”

After a disastrous year that saw many smartphone users and corporations drop the Blackberry in favour of Apple Inc.’s (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Google’s (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, RIM is hoping that the launch of its new BlackBerrys will help it claw its way back into the market and make it even more popular in emerging markets where BlackBerrys are already the preferred choice.

The release of the new BlackBerry smartphone will come months after the launch of the iPhone 5. The company's PlayBook tablet also came several months after the iPad, and disappointed customers, having to introduce sharp price cuts to increase sales. 

RIM said its new smartphone devices will feature Blackberry Hub, a one-stop message center that lets users handle messages from multiple email accounts, BlackBerry Messenger, social networking sites and text messages all in one location. 

All messages, notifications, feeds, and calendar events come into the BlackBerry Hub and no matter what the user is doing with the device, they can “peek into the Hub” at any time.

RIM said the new devices will feature its revamped keyboard, along with a BlackBerry Balance dual profile feature that allows the user to maintain two separate profiles on a single BlackBerry phone with the ability to switch profiles with just a swipe. 

The BlackBerry 10 system will also offer a variety of applications, including games and multimedia apps, and those designed for business and enterprise use.

RIM's transition to its new Blackberry 10 operating system is taking place under a new management team and amid a lay-off of 5,000 employees this year as part of a bid to save a billion dollars.

With today’s announcement of a release at the end of January, RIM will miss the all-important holiday shopping season, after delaying the launch of the system multiple times previously. 

Heins, who took over as RIM's chief executive in January after the company lost tens of billions in market value, had vowed to do everything he could to release BlackBerry 10 this year but he said in June that the timetable simply wasn't realistic.

RIM was once Canada's most valuable company with a market value of more than C$80 billion in June 2008, but the stock has plummeted since, from over $140 per share to lows of around $7.00.

In September, despite posting a third straight quarterly loss, RIM surprised investors as it beat on revenues, subscribers, Playbook sales and cash position.

The Waterloo, Ontario-headquartered company reported shipping around 7.4 million units of its BlackBerry smartphones for the second fiscal quarter. Most analysts were expecting less than 7 million units to be sold. 

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