RIM is expected to announce the launch of its revamped touchscreen BlackBerry 9800 in New York next Tuesday, which is said will compete more efectively with Apple Inc’s iPhone and other smartphones.
Industry watchers say the 9800 will boast a new operating system, a revamped web browser and full slide-out keyboard in a bid to silence its critics, who have complained about a clunky web browser, a humdrum applications store and a product lineup that’s missing a compelling touchscreen device, according to Reuters.
Analysts say a smooth launch is critical for the company, whose stock has fallen by a third in the past year as the iPhone and devices running on Google Inc’s Android software eat into its share of the key North American market.
RIM is hoping to take advantage of Apple misfortunes with the launch of the new iPhone 4, and announce availability of its new model by mid August. The Waterloo, Ontario-based company first gave a sneak peek of its new operating system, modern interface and what promises to be a fast, accurate and easy-to-use Web browser in April and said a launch would come before the end of August.
“This is an opportunity for RIM to respond, not only on the operating system and browser-side, but equally importantly, that they have a nice smooth operating piece of hardware,” Mackie Research Capital analyst Nick Agostino said.
RIM’s overseas sales have grown steadily, but gains have largely come from sales of low-end devices that have weighed on the company’s average selling price. RIM is also facing more competition within its once-secure business enterprise segment, as some companies are allowing employees to swap BlackBerry devices for other smartphones.
Images and pictures of what purports to be the 9800 device have popped up on numerous blogs, ahead of the announcement.
Analysts say AT&T is expected to get exclusive U.S. rights to sell the new BlackBerry handset. The company also has the exclusive franchise for the iPhone in the United States.
The handset is likely to be launched in Canada and Western Europe in October.
Shares of RIM rose as much as 4.5 percent on Wednesday.