MONTREAL — Research In Motion is set to launch a new BlackBerry on Tuesday that’s expected to take on Apple’s iPhone — a key event the company likely doesn’t want overshadowed by restrictions on its devices in the United Arab Emirates.
In New York, the BlackBerry maker is expected to unveil a new touchscreen smartphone with a pull-out keyboard and a new operating system to make Internet surfing faster. The phones will run on U.S. carrier AT&T’s network.
Wunderlich Securities Inc. analyst Matt Robison said RIM needs to introduce a strong product, or the UAE’s recently announced restrictions on email, texting and web browsing will carry more weight.
“We believe the nature of the Middle Eastern news is distracting enough that tomorrow’s (Tuesday’s) AT&T event must include a compelling introduction of a BlackBerry 6 phone with a multitouch to overcome it,” Robison wrote in a research note.
Research In Motion (TSX:RIM) is competing for consumers’ loyalty against not only the iPhone but Google-powered Android smartphones, which have touchscreens and pullout keyboards.
RIM released a touchscreen phone almost two years ago to mixed reviews and analysts have often asked when it will introduce an “iPhone killer.”
RIM said Monday that it won’t compromise security after the Persian Gulf country said it will ban email, messaging and web browsing on its smartphones.
“RIM respects both the regulatory requirements of government and the security and privacy needs of corporations and consumers,” the Canadian tech company said in a statement.
The ban will take effect Oct. 11 and will apply to visitors to the UAE, too.
How data such as email and text messages are managed on BlackBerry smartphones is facing scrutiny in UAE, where authorities say the devices operate outside national laws.
The data is encrypted and routed through the RIM’s servers overseas, where it cannot be monitored by local authorities for content or possible illegal activity.
The BlackBerry is well-known known for the security it provides to its users, a fact which may be of interest to authorities in UAE since it’s among countries that censor websites and other forms of media.
Telecommunication officials in Saudi Arabia have also said they are planning to curtail use of the BlackBerry messaging service, but not other services on the smartphones.