Research In Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM) said it will hold a launch event Jan. 30 to officially unveil its BlackBerry 10 platform, a move that represents the company's first public step to revive its fortunes.
The BlackBerry maker said the event will be held simultaneously in multiple countries around the world and that it will officially announce its first two BlackBerry 10 smartphones at the event. RIM said that it will provide details on the smartphones and their availability at the launch event. RIM said recently that it had delivered BB10 to more than 50 carriers for lab certification, a key sign of support for the platform. RIM also recently noted that the U.S. government had certified the security of BB10 and its Blackberry Enterprise Server 10, allowing government agencies to use them.
The decision to announce the launch event date could be seen as a way to both calibrate expectations and let analysts and investors know about the progress RIM is making. Some had speculated that BB10 would not be ready to launch until March. Importantly, RIM has not indicated when the newest BB10 devices will actually reach consumers' hands.
Nevertheless, RIM is trying to create a sense of momentum around BB10 ahead of the launch. It will need all of the help it can get from analysts and carriers. According to research firm IDC, RIM's third-quarter global smartphone market share slipped to 4.3 percent, down from 11.8 percent a year earlier. RIM will also need to contend with the launch of numerous smartphones in the fourth quarter running Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone 8 platform, which Microsoft is positioning as the main competitor to Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android and Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iOS.
"Thanks to our strong partnerships with global carriers and a growing ecosystem of developers, we believe our customers will have the best experience possible with BlackBerry 10," REIM CEO Thorsten Heins said in a statement. "We are looking forward to getting BlackBerry 10 in the hands of our customers around the world."
RIM has highlighted some of the key features of BB10 at its developer conferences so far this year, but has also kept some details close to the vest. The company has said that feedback from carriers has been strongly positive.
Some of the key features of the new platform include BlackBerry Flow, which allows users to flow seamlessly between applications and tasks without having to switch out of them. Additionally, BlackBerry Hub will act as a notification, messaging and social networking nerve center on the phone. RIM has also promised to deliver the best keyboard experience on a smartphone, either virtual Qwerty or physical.
Heins has said that RIM will launch with a "one-two punch" of BB10 devices: one that is an all-touch experience and one that has RIM's classic Qwerty keyboard. Within those two types, RIM will offer three different devices, a high-end device, a mid-tier device and a low-end device, for six total. RIM also revealed that BES 10 will support the new phones as well as older BlackBerry devices.
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