RIM changes name to BlackBerry, unveils 2 phones

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12:15 p.m.

Adam Leach, principal analyst at research firm Ovum, calls the new system “well-designed” and says the new phones should appeal to existing BlackBerry users. But he says RIM “will struggle to appeal to a wider audience, and in the long-term will become a niche player in the smartphone market.”

Malik Saadi, principal analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media, offers praise for the Z10 and the fact that with the new system, messaging and other services “are always just one gesture away from the user regardless of the other tasks the phone is performing.”

But because the user experience is changing, Saadi says, RIM may struggle at first winning over consumers. He adds, “The minimalistic design of the phone means it does not feature the traditional physical `buttons’ users are accustomed to _ the home button, the back button and the search button. Instead the phone relies predominantly on soft touch and gesture for navigation.”

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Noon

RIM announces availability in additional markets. Most of Latin America should have it by the end of March. Venezuela is getting it March. 10.

In the U.S., all the major carriers are getting it _ AT&T Inc., Verizon Wireless, Sprint Nextel Corp. and T-Mobile USA.

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11:55 a.m.

RIM previous announced that it is planning a commercial during the Super Bowl this weekend. Boulben says it’s to signal to U.S. customers that the BlackBerry is back.

Although BlackBerry remains popular in many parts of the world, sales have been weak in North America. According to research firm IDC, shipments of BlackBerry phones plummeted from 46 percent of the U.S. market in 2008 to 2 percent in 2012.

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11:50 a.m.

RIM plans to continue making the PlayBook tablet despite lackluster sales. The company says it will focus on industries such as finance and health care, where RIM can provide value-added services beyond hardware. An upgrade is planned so that existing PlayBooks will get the new BlackBerry 10 system, too.

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