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Smartphones manufacturer, Research In Motion Limited‘s *(BBRY - Analyst Report) keyboard based Q10 version is set to hit the US stores this week. The much-awaited QWERTY-based smartphone is supported by BlackBerry’s latest BB10 OS (Operating System).

T-Mobile US Inc. (TMUS - Snapshot Report) customers will be the first to lay their hands on the smartphone. The pre-orders for the phone are currently undergoing for business customers. The smartphone will be available online and in stores for a down payment of $99.99 and 24 monthly payments of $20.

The largest U.S. carrier, Verizon Wireless (VZ - Analyst Report) has already started taking pre-orders for the phone, store availability of which is yet to be disclosed. Q10 customers will be able to enjoy Verizon’s superfast LTE (Long Term Evolution) network that will allow them to watch live matches, download HD movies and stream videos faster. Verizon has priced the smartphone at $199.99 with a new 2-year contract.

Meanwhile, AT&T Inc. (T - Analyst Report) has already opened a pre-registration webpage on its website and will start taking pre-orders from Jun 5, 2013. However, the third-largest U.S. carrier, Sprint-Nextel Corp. (S - Analyst Report) declared that it will unveil the phone this summer.

BlackBerry has been struggling in a smartphone market mainly dominated by iPhone and other Android-based devices. In an attempt to recover its deteriorating smartphone business, BlackBerry launched its much-awaited BB10 OS-based device on Jan 30, 2013.

Initially, BlackBerry started selling the touchscreen version (Z10) of its smartphone in 25 countries and has received good response in Canada and the U.K. However, according to a media report, demand has fizzled out in most of the countries and even the U.S. launch has failed to create any significant result.

A couple of months back, the company launched its keypad version and achieved good response in Canada and Great Britain. Q10 shares some of the Z10 features like BlackBerry Hub, Flow and Balance in addition to its existing BlackBerry Messenger service.

QWERTY-based handsets are losing ground in a market mainly dominated by touchscreen smartphones. However, we believe that with Q10, BlackBerry is targeting a niche market where customers still prefer a keyboard version over a touchscreen one.

U.S. is one of the most lucrative markets for BlackBerry and launching Q10 will provide the much needed push to the declining sales of its latest BB10 OS-based device. Nevertheless, it remains to be seen how Q10 fairs in the U.S. where its predecessor Z10 failed to gain any meaningful market share.

Research in Motion currently carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold).

*Research In Motion announced that effective Jan 30, 2013, the company would operate around the world under the name BlackBerry. From Feb 4, 2013, the company’s ticker symbol for trading has been changed from “RIMM” to “BBRY” on NASDAQ. The legal name of the company has not changed, for which the approval of the official change by shareholders will be sought at the company's Annual General Meeting later in 2013. During the time, the company will do business as BlackBerry.

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