Updated: January 30, 2013 2:25 AM | By David Friend, The Canadian Press, thecanadianpress.com

New BlackBerry smartphones to make debut

NEW YORK, N.Y. - Following several delays and much anticipation, the new BlackBerry smartphones will be unveiled within the hour in New York.


NEW YORK, N.Y. - Following several delays and much anticipation, the new BlackBerry smartphones will be unveiled within the hour in New York.

Research In Motion (TSX:RIM), the company behind the once dominant smartphones, is holding a splashy event in Manhattan to usher in the new devices, which were originally due for release last year.

Hundreds are gathering at Pier 36, a massive entertainment venue on the shores of the East River.

Chief executive Thorsten Heins will step onto the stage around 10 a.m. ET holding the BlackBerry that has been at once considered the company's last hope, but also its biggest hurdle.

The event will likely include its release date, which is expected in the next four to six weeks, the phone's features and how much it will cost.

The company says the new BlackBerry will be released first in a touchscreen version, while a keypad alternative will follow in the weeks or months afterward.

The new phone launch is RIM's attempt to regain its position in the highly competitive North American and European smartphone markets, which are now dominated by iPhone and Android devices.

In pre-market trading in New York, RIM shares (Nasdaq:RIMM) were up 1.66 per cent, or 26 cents, to US$15.92.

While the first hurdles to overcome are the opinions of tech analysts and investor reaction, the true measure of success — actual sales of the phones — is still weeks away.

The BlackBerry has dramatically lost marketshare in recent years after a series of blunders.

Several network outages left customers without the use of the smartphones they had come to rely on, while the BlackBerry's hardware hasn't received a significant upgrade in years.

RIM chief executive Thorsten Heins has already offered a glimpse of some features on the new devices. They include BlackBerry Balance technology, which allows one phone to operate as both a business and personal device entirely separate from each other.

The new BlackBerry will also let users seamlessly shift between the phone's applications like they're flipping between pages on a desk.

In the coming weeks, RIM will launch an advertising blitz to promote the phones, including aggressive social media campaigning, which includes plugs from celebrities on their Twitter accounts, and a 30-second advertisement on the Super Bowl, the most watched television program of the year.

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