RIM changes name, unveils BlackBerry 10 in comeback bid

A new Research in Motion (RIM) Blackberry 10 device are seen after their launch in New York.

Research In Motion Ltd unveiled on Wednesday the long-delayed line of smartphones it hopes will put the company on the comeback trail in a market it once dominated, but said sales of the BlackBerry 10 in the United States will not start until March.

Signaling his hopes for a fresh start for the company that pioneered on-your-hip email, Chief Executive Thorsten Heins also said RIM was abandoning the name it has used since its inception in 1985 to take on the name of its signature product.

“From this point forward, RIM becomes BlackBerry.” Heins said at the New York launch. “It is one brand; it is one promise.”

RIM launched its first BlackBerry back in 1999 as a way for busy executives to stay in touch with their clients and their offices, and the Canadian company quickly cornered the market for secure corporate and government email.

But its star faded as competition rose. The BlackBerry is now a far-behind also-ran in the race for market share, with a 3.4 percent global showing in the fourth quarter, down from 20 percent three years before. Its North American market share is even worse: a mere 2 percent in the fourth quarter.

RIM said the first of the new BlackBerrys will be available on Thursday in Britain, with other countries following as carriers complete their testing.

In the U.S. market, which sets trends that other countries follow, the BlackBerry Z10 touchscreen device will go on sale in March. U.S. carrier Verizon Wireless said the phone would cost $199 for a two-year contract, while Canada’s Rogers Communications is quoting C$149 ($150) for certain three-year plans.

SHARES SLUMP

RIM shares initially rallied on Wednesday, but soon fell as much as 8 percent below Tuesday’s close. The stock is down 90 percent from its 2008 peak as the BlackBerry has lost ground to rival devices. But in the last four months its volatile shares have more than doubled as buzz grew about the new devices.

“It was such a well-advertised launch date that people moved the stock up and then they took profits ahead of when it was going to be revealed,” said Ian Nakamoto, director of research at Macdougall, Macdougall and Mactier in Toronto.

“For RIM, it’s a normal stock market day. It would have been an abnormal stock market day if it had got cut in half or something.”

The legal name change to BlackBerry from Research In Motion takes affect after shareholders approve the decision, but the company already plans to do business under the BlackBerry name.

“We want our employees to say, ‘I work for BlackBerry.’ Our customers to say, ‘I own a BlackBerry.’ Our shareholders to say, ‘I own BlackBerry stock,’” said chief marketing officer Frank Boulben. “We want to become what I’d call a branded house versus a house of brands.”

The new BlackBerry 10 phones will compete with Apple’s iPhone and devices using Google’s Android technology, both of which have soared above the BlackBerry in a competitive market.

The BlackBerry 10 devices boast fast browsers, new features, smart cameras and, unlike previous BlackBerry models, enter the market primed with a large application library, including services such as Skype and the popular game Angry Birds.

The new devices are sleek black numbers, one with the small “qwerty” keyboard that RIM made into its trademark, and one a pure touchscreen device that looks much like those its competitors already produce.

“QWERTY” DEVICE IN APRIL

The Q10 “qwerty” device will launch later than the Z10 touchscreen. Heins said it would hit global markets in April.

RIM picked a range of venues for its global launch parties, including Dubai’s $650-a-night Armani Hotel, which occupies six floors of the Burj Khalifa, the world’s tallest tower.

The New York event took place in a sprawling basketball facility on the Lower East Side of Manhattan, just north of the Manhattan Bridge. The Blackberry has been “Re-designed. Re-engineered. Re-invented,” RIM said.

RIM, which is splurging on a Superbowl ad to promote its new phones, also introduced Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Alicia Keys as its global creative director.

“I was in a long-term relationship with BlackBerry, and then I started to notice some new, kind of hotter, attractive, sexier phones at the gym, and I kind of broke up with you for something that had a little more bling,” Keys said at the New York launch.

“But I always missed the way you organized my life, and the way you were there for me at my job, and so I started to have two phones – I was kind of playing the field. But then … you added a lot more features … and now, we’re exclusively dating again, and I’m very happy.”


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Oval oasis: Summer of fun kicks off this…

A bold partnership between the Fairmount Park Conservancy and the city's Parks and Recreation Department is kicking off this weekend with family activities re-activating this unused public space.

Local

African couple claiming misidentification in robbery case to…

At a bail hearing today for Vickson and Lorfu Korlewala, charged in the robbery of an 80-year-old woman, bail was reduced from $1 million total to $500,000.

International

Jews in eastern Ukraine ordered to register, Kerry…

Secretary of State John Kerry condemned reports that Jews in eastern Ukraine had been ordered to register with the authorities "or suffer the consequences."

National

Chelsea Clinton pregnant with first child

Chelsea Clinton is pregnant with her first child.

Television

Dick Wolf to bring fictionalized world of 'Law…

A&E has ordered a pilot called "D.O.A." from "Law and Order" mastermind Dick Wolf that will focus on real detectives reexamining cold cases. A trio…

Movies

Review: 'Transcendence' is not stupid but sometimes lacks…

The cyberthriller "Transcendence" explores artificial intelligence, nanotechnology and other ethical quandaries, but has too much ambition, if anything.

Television

Shane West talks WGN America's 'Salem'

The actor on history lessons, a new network and showing his butt.

Music

Both feet on the ground with Aimee Mann…

What began with a cool double-bill of Ted Leo opening for Aimee Mann morphed into a full-fledged collaborative project that they're calling The Both. “There…

MLB

Jimmy Rollins is key to Phillies success

When John Kruk was asked about what the Phillies need to contend for a playoff berth, the ESPN analyst said Jimmy Rollins needs to play like a MVP again.

MLB

Ben Revere lifts Phillies to avoid sweep

Ben Revere came through with a two-out RBI single against Atlanta’s tough lefthander Alex Wood.

NBA

Season wrap: 76ers make the grade

The 76ers opened the 2013-14 season with a victory over the Miami Heat. The Sixers closed the season with a win at Miami.

NBA

Fantasy basketball: Finding next year's NBA studs

Before we put the 2013-14 fantasy basketball season to bed, it’s worth thinking about next year’s breakouts while they’re fresh in our mind.

Style

Light-up nail art syncs with phone

This Japanese technology syncs light-up nail art with your phone.

Wellbeing

Why is dance cardio taking off in NYC?

Instructors at some of the city's hottest classes explain why.

Travel

Earth Day travel in the Florida Keys

See why this eco-friendly destination deserves your attention.

Tech

Sorry, Facebook — FarmVille goes mobile with 'Country…

Zynga has released a version of the hit "FarmVille" tailored for smartphones and tablets in the hope of reaping a bumper crop of players.