Nov 12 Research In Motion Ltd plans to introduce its new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones on Jan. 30, the company said on Monday, giving investors a measure of confidence that the long-awaited devices are nearing completion.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, is betting its future on the new products, which will be powered by its new BlackBerry 10 operating system. Its shares rose 5.5 percent to $9.01 in trading before the U.S. stock markets opened.
RIM has struggled over the last two years as its devices lost ground to snazzier and faster smartphones like Apple Inc's iPhone and Samsung Electronics' Galaxy line.
RIM said the twice-delayed launch would take place simultaneously in multiple countries. It will introduce two BlackBerry 10 smartphones as well as the platform that powers them.
The company has said the first devices will have touchscreens. Phones with the mini QWERTY keyboards that many long-time BlackBerry users rave about will come a few weeks later.
The company did not say when the devices will be available in stores.
RIM says its new devices will be faster and smoother and have a large catalog of applications that are now crucial to the success of any new line of smartphones.
Last week, RIM said the new platform and devices had received U.S. government security clearance, potentially allowing U.S. and Canadian government agencies to deploy the new smartphones as soon as they are available.
These were the first BlackBerry products to win Federal Information Processing Standard 140-2 certifications ahead of their introduction, the company said.
RIM began carrier tests on the BB10 devices last month. The Canadian company hopes will help it win back some of the market share it has lost to the iPhone and devices that run on Google Inc's Android operating system.
ALL OR NOTHING
Some analysts fear that RIM faces tough challenges in an ultra-competitive smartphone market.
Pacific Crest analyst James Faucette said earlier this month that BlackBerry 10 was likely to be dead on arrival, with an operating system that gets "a lukewarm response at best," due to the unfamiliar user interface and a shortage of apps.
Others disagree. Paradigm Capital analyst Gabriel Leung said the devices could help reverse RIM's market share losses in crucial markets such as North America.
"We believe the company has significantly improved its ability to attract developers to build apps for the BB10 ecosystem," Leung said in a recent note to clients.
RIM's stock has fallen more than 90 percent from a peak of over $148 in 2008. But at Friday's close, the shares were up about 20 percent over the last two months on signs that the BlackBerry 10 devices are finally likely to make it to market.
Copyright 2010 by Reuters. All rights reserved.