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BlackBerry wants to break new ground

Jan 30 2013 19:32

New York - BlackBerry launched its comeback effort on Wednesday with a revamped platform and a pair of sleek new handsets, along with a company name change as part of a move to reinvent the smartphone maker.

Canadian-based Research in Motion said it had changed its name to BlackBerry as it launched the BlackBerry 10, the new platform aimed at helping the firm regain traction in a market now dominated by rivals.

"From this point forward RIM becomes BlackBerry," chief executive Thorsten Heins told a glitzy unveiling in New York, one of six global events for the product launch. "It is one brand, it is one promise."

The company unveiled two new devices for its new platform, one with a physical keyboard called the Q10, and a touchscreen handset dubbed Z10.

The new BlackBerry "will transform mobile communications into true mobile computing," Heins said.

"Today is a brand new day in the history of BlackBerry."

The launch is seen as critical to BlackBerry, which had been the dominant smartphone maker before Apple launched its iPhone and others began using the Google Android operating system.

RIM says the all-new system will break new ground by allowing customers to flip between applications seamlessly and without first passing through a home page, to boost efficiency and multitasking.

Another key asset of BlackBerry 10 is what RIM dubbed the "BlackBerry balance," a system that allows users to separate professional communications and applications from music, photographs and other personal items.

Such an option means that if a user changes job, his or her former company can disable the device's corporate side without affecting personal data.

RIM's recent performance on Wall Street suggests the market is open to the BlackBerry 10. Shares have risen more than 30% since the start of the year, although they dropped back over the last two sessions.

Carolina Milanesi, an analyst for Gartner who specializes in consumer devices, said the aim of the launch "is to reinstill faith in the BlackBerry brand and capture both consumer and enterprises at the same time."

Milanesi said a successful launch will at least give them a shot to get into the game" but that BlackBerry has little room for error, after a launch delayed several months.

"They will not be forgiven for any mistakes," she said.

BlackBerry shares fell 4.4% after the launch to $14.98.

According to research firm IDC, BlackBerry's share of the global smartphone market slipped to 4.7% in 2012, to 68% for Android and 18.8% for Apple's iOS.

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