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Shares of BlackBerry maker Research in Motion Ltd. climbed 5 percent Tuesday after a Wall Street analyst praised its forthcoming QNX operating system as a flexible and portable application platform that will span its smartphone lineup sooner than expected.
Jefferies & Co. analyst Peter Misek said his evaluation of the new operating software indicates it offers a good web browsing experience, is more bandwidth-efficient and secure than Apple's iOSS or Google's Android, is easily scalable to both low-end and high-end devices and makes it easy for developers to port Android apps to the new software, which will debut with the release of RIM's Playbook tablet early next year.
As expected , Research In Motion announced a tablet, dubbed the BlackBerry Playbook, at its developers' conference late yesterday, a dual-core, 7-inch touchscreen device running a new OS based on QNX software.
The Canadian company detailed the hardware specs, which include a 1GHz dual-core processor and 1GB of RAM, both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connections, front- and rear-facing HD cameras, and microHDMI and microUSB ports, packaged in a 10mm-thick tablet weighing just 400g, about one-third lighter than Apple's popular iPad. Yet it did not disclose pricing or availability beyond a US release in "early 2011" and other countries in the second quarter of next year. It did say in a press release that it plans to work with developers and "select corporate customers next month to begin development and early testing efforts."
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion finally plans to jettison the oft-criticized BlackBerry OS in favor of new software developed by QNX Software Systems, which RIM acquired earlier this year. And the new platform could debut as early as next week, when RIM may unveil its long-rumored tablet, known as the "BlackPad" at its developer conference, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal.
Much criticized as slow, buggy and not competitive with Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system, the latest release of the BlackBerry OS, version 6, has met with lukewarm reviews. And the first BlackBerry OS 6 device, the Torch, has suffered lackluster sales compared to the hot-selling iPhone and a slew of new Android-based smartphones.
Research in Motion's stranglehold on the enterprise with its Blackberry smartphones continues to loosen, as a pair of big money-center banks and the nation's largest mutual fund family are reportedly testing iPhone and Android devices as potential Blackberry replacements.
JPMorgan Chase & Co. and Switzerland's UBS AG are both considering letting employees use iPhones for access to corporate e-mail for the first time, according to Bloomberg. JPMorgan is testing both iPhones and smartphones based on Google's Android mobile OS, Bloomberg says, citing two people familiar with the bank's plans. JPMorgan is the nation's second-largest bank, with about 220,000 employees worldwide.
UBS AG, Switzerland's biggest bank with more than 63,000 employees, also told Bloomberg it is considering allowing its staff to use iPhones for company messaging, due the growing popularity of the smartphone among employees. And Vanguard Group Inc., the largest operator of stock and bond mutual funds in the US, is trying out the iPhone with 300 workers and may soon let employees companywide use the device, Joshua Grandy, a Vangaurd spokesman told Bloomberg.
These financial services giants are just the latest to explore alternatives to the BlackBerry. In May Standard Chartered Bank Plc announced it was migrating 15,000 employees from BlackBerry to the iPhone by year-end. The financial services seem to be at the forefront of the movement toward IT consumerization, which is widely seen as building momentum and threatens the dominance that RIM and BlackBerry enjoys in the enterprise.
AT&T will begin selling another Google Android-powered phone on Aug. 15, the Sony Ericsson Xperia X10 ($150 with a 2-year contract) to round out its smartphone lineup. But even with it's impressive specs -- 4-inch screen, 8 MP camera, 8 GB onboard storage, 1 GHz chip -- it will likely be a distant third in AT&T's smartphone line-up behind the hot-selling iPhone 4 and the new RIM BlackBerry Torch, which is based on the new Blackberry OS 6 and goes on sale Aug. 12 exclusively from AT&T.
It may not come as much of a surprise, but Research In Motion on Tuesday introduced its latest stab at an iPhone killer -- the BlackBerry Torch 9800.
The new slider phone, which features both a multi-touch screen and a QWERTY keyboard, is the first RIM device to run on the BlackBerry 6 operating system that the company hopes will keep it atop the smartphone game. It's too early to say definitively, but at worst it looks like RIM doesn't have another Storm debacle on its hands.
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