RIM’s CEO says new BlackBerry phone being tested

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TORONTO (AP) - BlackBerry maker Research In Motion says its much-delayed new smartphones are now being tested by 50 wireless carriers around the world.

The Canadian company said Wednesday that it is a critical milestone as it prepares to launch the new BlackBerry 10 software and phones in the first quarter next year.

The phones have been deemed critical to RIM’s survival. The release will come as North Americans are abandoning BlackBerrys for flashier iPhones and Android phones.

New Chief Executive Thorsten Heins had vowed to do everything he could to release BlackBerry 10 this year but he said in June that the timetable simply wasn’t realistic.

RIM was once Canada’s most valuable company with a market value of more than $80 billion in 2008, but the stock has plummeted since.

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