Research In Motion to unveil new BlackBerry devices

Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) made another step towards the release of its new BlackBerry smartphones on Monday, announcing that it plans to unveil the devices and its new operating system on Jan. 30.

Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) made another step towards the release of its new BlackBerry smartphones on Monday, announcing that it plans to unveil the devices and its new operating system on Jan. 30.

The launch date provides a little more certainty for those who were skeptical that another BlackBerry would ever see the light of day, but it still doesn’t confirm when customers will be able to buy the new touchscreen and keypad versions at stores.

“We’re not going to talk about availability yet,” said company spokeswoman Crystal Roberts in a telephone interview.

Instead, RIM is planning to use the late January date as a platform to showcase the make-or-break device with simultaneous events in multiple countries, though its still uncertain exactly which countries will be the first to get a peek.

The hotly-anticipated launch could mimic the style that technology giant Apple Inc. has made famous in recent years, with its CEO showing off new devices on a stage surrounded by a rapturous crowd of eager users.

Given that the BlackBerry launch will be held in multiple countries at the same time, it’s unclear at this point in which city or cities RIM’s chief executive Thorsten Heins will appear.

Shares of RIM were higher Monday afternoon, up 23 cents at $8.79 on the Toronto Stock Exchange, but the gain was only about half that made earlier in the session, shortly after the company issued the announcement.

The minimal stock movement suggests traders were little surprised by the announcement, since the launch date was in line with expectations, said Bill Kreher, a technology analyst with financial services firm Edward Jones.

“Given recent missteps and delays we believe this removes some uncertainty around the timing these devices make it to market,” he said, noting that the phones are likely to hit shelves in late February or March.

“I’m still skeptical regarding that moment of truth when consumers are faced with multiple devices, that they’ll actually purchase a BlackBerry 10.”

RIM has outlined that it plans to launch the new smartphones with grassroots and viral marketing campaigns that lean heavily on recruiting loyal BlackBerry users and former users who have switched to competitors’ devices, like the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S3, but would consider coming back to the BlackBerry.

But analysts say that will only get the company so far in its launch.

“The company is playing catch up, they do not have the ecosystem of other devices,” Kreher said, noting the prominence of apps stores from Apple’s iTunes store and Google.

“With their branding waning over the last few years, we think marketing will help but a hit product is what will allow RIM to succeed long term.”

Last week, the company gave Canadian politicians and their staff to a sneak preview of the yet-to-be-released devices, while it also won U.S. security clearance for the BlackBerry 10 platform.

“They’re trying to thread the needle between big announcements and releases from their most serious competitors,” said Charter Equity analyst Edward Snyder.

“Gaining (market) share back is going to be very expensive and it’s going to be time consuming.”

Snyder noted that several factors are working against RIM, including that the launch will miss this year’s lucrative holiday season and debut in the first half of next year, a much slower sales period for smart phones. He said RIM will also unveil the new phones around the same time as the rumoured date for the new Samsung Galaxy S4 device, which could steal thunder from the BlackBerry.

Cormark Securities analyst Richard Tse maintains his “Buy” rating on RIM’s stock, saying that he believes the new operating system may be better than many people expect.

Earlier this month, the company announced that its operating system went into testing stages with 50 phone carriers around the world, marking a significant milestone in getting the devices to market.

RIM president and CEO Thorsten Heins said that in building BlackBerry 10, the company set out to create “a truly unique mobile computing experience.”

“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,” Heins said in announcing the launch date.

Among other things, the BlackBerry 10 will offer a large catalogue of applications from games to lifestyle and multimedia apps, as well as applications designed for business and enterprise use.

The company says the feature it calls BlackBerry Flow allows seamless navigation across open applications. All messages, notifications, feeds, and calendar events come into what is called the BlackBerry hub. With a simple gesture, users can peek into the hub at any time, regardless of what they are doing with the device.

The new smartphones will also have a function that adapts to how the user types to allow faster and more accurate typing.

And RIM says a feature called BlackBerry Balance will keep personal apps and information separate from work data, but the user will be able to switch back and forth.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, confirmed eight additional virus-deaths Monday afternoon including one in central zone. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
New record: Red Deer at 236 active COVID cases

One more death in central zone reported

The City of Red Deer is still repaying two loans for the Sorensen Station parkade, which are contributing to a deficit in the parking revenue fund. (Advocate staff)
Dropping parking revenues in Red Deer are creating a deficit

Loan repayments for the cost of the parkade are straining reserves

Red Deer firefighters look for coloured tags on downtown fire hydrants to determine water pressure levels before connecting their hoses to fight blazes, such as this fire at a low-income housing complex last summer. (Advocate file photo.)
Tagged fire hydrants are some of the City of Red Deer’s new innovations

New ideas are being generated to improve services or save money: general-manager

RCMP. (Phil McLachlan - Black Press Media)
‘Fake’ police officers demand money, Red Deer RCMP warn of scam

Red Deer RCMP are warning the public of a concerning incident where… Continue reading

The sit-down area of Red Deer's Tim Hortons at 3020 22nd St. was closed to the public on Monday because of an "evolving health situation." The drive-through was open and remained busy.
Photo by PAUL COWLEY/Advocate staff
Red Deer Tim Hortons restaurant dining room closed due to “evolving health situation”

Drive-through at Tim Hortons in southeast Red Deer remained open

Idyllic winter scenes are part of the atmosphere of the holiday season, and are depicted in many seasonal movies. How much do you know about holiday movies? Put your knowledge to the test. (Pixabay.com)
QUIZ: Test your knowledge of holiday movies and television specials

The festive season is a time for relaxing and enjoying some seasonal favourites

Vancouver Whitecaps forward Fredy Montero celebrates after scoring a goal against the Los Angeles Galaxy during the second half of an MLS soccer match in Portland, Ore., Sunday, Nov. 8, 2020. The Vancouver Whitecaps are hanging on to several of their young players and continuing contract talks with two veterans, including Montero. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Steve Dipaola
Whitecaps exercise options on seven players, ‘continuing discussions’ with Montero

Whitecaps exercise options on seven players, ‘continuing discussions’ with Montero

Toronto FC forward Pablo Piatti (7) cuts past Vancouver Whitecaps defender Ali Adnan (53) during first half MLS Canadian Championship soccer action in Toronto on Friday, August 21, 2020. Barring a new agreement, Toronto FC is parting ways with designated player Pablo Piatti. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Toronto FC looks for new designated player, opts not to pick up Piatti option

Toronto FC looks for new designated player, opts not to pick up Piatti option

Hamilton Forge FC players celebrate their win over CD Olimpia's during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 action in Hamilton, Ont., Thursday, Aug. 22, 2019. After a season that has taken it from Hamilton to Charlottetown, El Salvador and Panama, Forge FC hopes the Dominican Republic is the last stop on the way to the Scotiabank CONCACAF Champions League. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Forge FC just one win away from booking ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

Forge FC just one win away from booking ticket to CONCACAF Champions League

A police officer patrols near the Olympic Symbol being transported on a barge in the Odaiba section Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2020, in Tokyo. The five Olympic rings are back in Tokyo Bay. They were removed for maintenance four months ago shortly after the Tokyo Olympics were postponed until next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko)
Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic

Olympic rings back in Tokyo Bay; a sign of hope in pandemic

Ottawa Redblacks player Brad Sinopoli speaks to reporters as the team clears out of the locker room, in Ottawa on Tuesday, Nov. 27, 2018. Sinopoli fully understands the challenge Kendall Hinton faced Sunday with the Denver Broncos. The Broncos activated Hinton, a receiver, from the practice roster to become the starting quarterback in Sunday's 31-3 loss to the New Orleans Saints. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
Former quarterback Brad Sinopoli can appreciate challenges Hinton faced with Broncos

Former quarterback Brad Sinopoli can appreciate challenges Hinton faced with Broncos

Hamilton Forge FC players Giuliano Frano (8) and David Edgar (30) celebrate their team's win over CD Olimpia's during Scotiabank CONCACAF League 2019 action in Hamilton, Ontario on Thursday, August 22, 2019. Edgar, who announced today he is retiring at the end of the year. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Peter Power
Veteran Canadian centre back David Edgar to retire at end of the year

Veteran Canadian centre back David Edgar to retire at end of the year

Sanctuary volunteer Angie Birch greets Wolfdog Rue as she goes through her daily chores at the Yamnuska Wolfdog Sanctuary, Cochrane Alberta on Monday, Nov. 23, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Dave Chidley
‘My heartdog’: Misunderstood wolfdogs get permanent home at sanctuary near Calgary

‘My heartdog’: Misunderstood wolfdogs get permanent home at sanctuary near Calgary

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney and Quebec Premier Francois Legault leave a news conference in Ottawa on Friday, Sept. 18, 2020. Kenney says Alberta’s largest hospitals are at 91 per cent capacity due to COVID-19 cases and widespread cancellation of more non-urgent surgeries may be necessary. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Alberta premier says hospitals stressed by COVID-19, more surgeries may be cancelled

Alberta premier says hospitals stressed by COVID-19, more surgeries may be cancelled

Most Read