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Good News for RIM

Honestly!
January 10, 2013

I’ve been waiting for good news to come out of RIM. Oh, how I’ve waited. (See “BlackBerry’s New OS: Too Little, Too Late?”; “BlackBerry Outages Spread to U.S.”; “RIM. Oh, RIM.” I could go on.) I’ve long vowed to write up a piece of good news about the beleaguered Canadian company, which once reined unchallenged over smartphones, should any come along. And it finally has.

Actually, a flurry of good news has come out about RIM today. Boy Genius Report, for instance, called up Rogers, the top Canadian carrier, to suss out what kind of demand exists for RIM’s forthcoming BlackBerry 10-powered handsets. Rogers replied that while it couldn’t release the exact number of reservations (it started taking them a few weeks ago), “customer interest is definitely strong and reservations continue daily.”

Meanwhile, Reuters chimes in with good news Stateside. AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile USA, the nation’s top three carriers, are all looking forward to selling the first BB10 smartphone, which is set to be unveiled on the 30th of this month. Though it doesn’t seem that the top brass at these companies are super knowledgeable about the phone’s ins and outs yet, despite reports saying that RIM has already been testing the phone on some networks. “We’re hopeful it’s going to be a good device,” Verizon Communications’ Lowell McAdam said.

PCWorld has a good reminder of what we know about BB10 so far. We should expect to see two devices unveiled on the 30th, one with that traditional beloved QWERTY keyboard (so crucial to the BlackBerry brand), another that goes purely touchscreen. Another four BB10 devices, shrouded in mystery for now, will be on the horizon soon after that (or sometime in 2013).

BB10 should have a few cool features, including an HTML 5-optimized browser, an adaptive virtual keyboard, and an interface called Flow (LaptopMag took a helpful look back in September). A feature I’d like to check out is something called BlackBerry Hub, which pools all your messaging in one place. I personally have trouble juggling my SMS, email, Facebook, and Twitter conversations, so the idea of uniting them under one shared interface is a great one.

Some critics have suggested (OK, fine, even I have suggested) that BB10 might well be RIM’s last chance to restore its place among the top smartphone makers. To judge from the series of cheerful news today, there are some signs that this might just be a Hail Mary that could actually work.

Perhaps the patron saint of ailing phone brands was working overtime today. Meanwhile, Nokia (another handset manufacturer that had been disappointing lately; see “Nokia Buzzkill”) reported fourth-quarter results that were better than expected.

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