U.S. agency gives RIM another shot, tests new BlackBerry

Thu Dec 13, 2012 6:12pm EST
 
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By Euan Rocha

TORONTO (Reuters) - A U.S. federal agency that has been phasing out the BlackBerry in favor of the iPhone said on Thursday it would test Research In Motion's new BB10 smartphones, fueling a fresh spurt in RIM's shares ahead of the new line's launch.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), an investigative arm of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, will begin a pilot program early next year to test the new line and the software to manage them on its network.

The news, which sent RIM shares up more than 6 percent on Thursday morning, extends a weeks-long rally that has pushed the stock to its highest close in more than seven months.

Investors have warmed to the stock - which had lost about 75 percent of its value in the last two years - on evidence that the make-or-break BB10 line is gaining traction with RIM's bread-and-butter customers in the weeks before its January 30 launch.

RIM, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has lost market share in recent years to Apple's iPhone and devices powered by Google's market-leading Android operating system. Even RIM's core business customers, who once used BlackBerry devices almost exclusively, have been defecting in droves.

BB10 represents Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM's best hope of persuading both corporations and government users to stick with its smartphones, long valued for their strong security features. RIM promises the new line, powered by the BlackBerry 10 operating system, will perform more smoothly and with more speed than previous BlackBerrys.

ICE is one of the customers it hopes to win over.

"Our priority is to ensure that ICE and all government agencies understand the full capabilities of the new BlackBerry 10 platform and how it can help them meet their mobility needs today and in the future," said Scott Totzke, RIM's senior vice president of BlackBerry Security.   Continued...

 
A logo of the Blackberry maker's Research in Motion is seen on a building at the RIM Technology Park in Waterloo April 18, 2012. REUTERS/Mark Blinch