RIM rebrands as BlackBerry; launches nifty new devices

Wed Jan 30, 2013 7:04pm EST
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By Euan Rocha and Sinead Carew

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd on Wednesday unveiled the long-delayed line of smartphones it hopes will put it on the comeback trail, but it disappointed investors by saying U.S. sales of its all-new BlackBerry 10 devices will not start until March, sending its share price tumbling 12 percent.

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

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

RIM, which is already starting to call itself BlackBerry, had initially planned to launch the new BlackBerry 10 devices a year ago. But it pushed the release date back twice as it struggled to perfect a new operating system.

Ahead of Wednesday's announcements, analysts had said that any launch after February would be a black mark for the Canada-based company.

"The biggest disappointment was the delay in the U.S., that it will take so long before the devices get going there," said Eric Jackson, founder and managing Partner at Ironfire Capital LLC in New York.

Heins said the delays reflected the need for U.S. carrier testing, although carrier AT&T Inc offered few clues on what that meant. Instead, the carrier merely stated it was enthusiastic about the devices and would announce availability, pricing and other information at a later date.

"Carriers in all other parts of the world get their devices through the testing process significantly faster than the U.S. carriers do," said John Jackson, an analyst at IDC, adding that the U.S. process can often take "weeks" longer.   Continued...

Research in Motion (RIM) President and Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins introduces new RIM Blackberry 10 devices during their launch in New York January 30, 2013. REUTERS/Shannon Stapleton (UNITED STATES - Tags: BUSINESS SCIENCE TECHNOLOGY TELECOMS)