Research in Motion's expected release soon of seven new BlackBerry smartphones is being seen as a key step for the company in trying to reverse its declining market share, revenues and stock price.
At the Canadian company's annual shareholder meeting this week, co-CEO James Balsillie told investors that RIM plans to launch the phones, with BlackBerry OS 7, but admitted there are challenges in doing so. There have been delays in getting the new OS version ready, he said.
And his partner, co-CEO Michael Lazardis, earlier this year acknowledged that RIM in mid-stream of developing the new handsets went back to the drawing board to upgrade them with more powerful CPUs and improved displays.
Mobile technology sites have been rife with reports and photos purporting to show the new devices, including new versions of the BlackBerry Bold and Torch models. Among them is the Torch 9860, dubbed Monza, a full-touch phone lacking RIM's hallmark hardware QWERTY keyboard.
How well the new models will be received is anyone's guess at this point. [See "How RIM is getting left behind"]
The company has been losing customers in the US, based on recent comScore data (though increasing customers in overseas markets), its much-ballyhooed PlayBook tablet has failed to win rave reviews and so far RIM isn't releasing sales numbers. The stock price has fallen by 50% this year, and its market valuation is now just over $13 billion compared to $75 billion at its high-point in August 2008.
John Cox covers wireless networking and mobile computing for Network World.
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