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RIM Reveals New Generation Of BlackBerrys

Tue, 10/18/2011 - 9:16am

SAN FRANCISCO — Just days after the worst service outage in its history, Research In Motion was expected to unveil a new generation of BlackBerrys Tuesday at a software developer's conference in San Francisco.

RIM (TSX:RIM) has struggled through several major setbacks in recent months and the conference gives the Waterloo, Ont.-based company an opportunity to start regaining both its reputation and its share of the red-hot smartphone market.

"You're going to see some very, very transformative things," co-CEO Jim Balsillie said Monday ahead of the conference.

The new generation of BlackBerrys will use the same operating system as RIM's PlayBook tablet and the smartphones are expected to be more like mobile computers when they're launched early next year.

The launch of newer models is expected to help RIM better compete with smartphones from Apple and those that run Google's Android operating system.

With its own more powerful QNX operating system, the new BlackBerrys are expected to give users a faster and better Internet experience and allow them to seamlessly perform multiple tasks at the same time.

Balsillie said the new software "leap-frogs the mobile industry" and helps position RIM for the next decade.

Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co. in New York, said much of RIM's future depends on releasing the new BlackBerrys with QNX.

The conference comes after a global outage of BlackBerry text, email and Internet services last week that hit Europe, Africa, the Middle East and North and South America.

To make amends for the outage, RIM (TSX:RIM) has offered its 70 million users a selection of free apps totalling $100 and its business customers free tech support for a month.

BlackBerry application developers will also get an opportunity to learn from RIM experts about the latest development technologies at the conference, which are expected to include an upgraded version of the PlayBook operating system to allow users access to their BlackBerry email, contacts and calendar.

This is not the first time the company has stumbled with its future at stake. RIM overcame doubts when it went public 14 years ago and then again during the tech crash 11 years ago. At one point, a patent dispute threatened to shut down BlackBerry service in the U.S. until the company settled in 2006.

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