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Beleaguered handset manufacturer Research in Motion Limited has finally announced the launch date of its long-awaited BlackBerry 10 operating system based smartphones. The company expects to launch the smartphone on January 30, 2013 and is currently fine-tuning the bits and pieces of the new phone. This latest offering from RIMM is believed to be the last throw in the dice for the Canadian manufacturer to stop its sliding smartphone market share. 

The new operating system is based on QNX software, which is compatible with various open-source coding language, much more user friendly and is expected to be loaded with more applications as compared to its legacy handsets. The most innovative feature is its updated touch screen keyboard, which allows the customers to type entire words through simple gestures.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company declared that a touch screen version of the device will be launched first followed by a physical keyboard option while the lower-end version of the device will be launched later in the year. However, the company hasn’t declared any specific date about when the smartphone will be available in the stores.

RIMM, which invented the concept of mobile email with its initial Blackberry devices has been struggling of late owing to an increasing competition, primarily from Apple Inc.’s (AAPL - Analyst Report) iPhone and from other smartphone manufacturers, which runs on Google Inc.’s Android platform. The recent launch of Microsoft Corporation’s (MSFT - Analyst Report) Windows 8 platform has only aggravated the problem. The company’s market value has been wiped out by more than 90% as its share plummeted to $8 from a peak of $148 in 2008.

Moreover, the entry of iPhone, Lumia and Galaxy into the enterprise segment raises concern for RIMM, which had established a strong foothold on the segment over the years. The company has undertaken a major restructuring plan to create value for itself by improving the effectiveness of its resources and enhancing its operational efficiency, thereby saving $1 billion by the end of 2013.

Though RIMM still lags in the application front to Android and iOS, the new range of smartphone is seen as a potential game changer for them particularly in the lucrative North American market. If the company can price the phone competitively, we believe BB10 coupled with this new developed feature could lure more enterprise clients, failing which can have serious implications on its growth going forward.

We maintain our long-term Neutral recommendation on Research in Motion. The company currently retains a Zacks #3 Rank, implying a short-term Hold rating.

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