BlackBerry developer Research in Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) is advising selected customers that the long-delayed BlackBerry 10 unit will be ready by late January, two months earlier than expected.
The loss-ridden Waterloo, Ontario-based smartphone company had warned investors that the new model wouldn't be ready until late March or so, despite having released specifications to developers months ago.
Now, reports said, RIM has been inviting small groups to preview the new unit, which it hopes to sell to its installed base that stood at 80 million global subscribers last quarter. On Monday, the company formally announced that the product will be shipped on Jan. 30.
Unlike other companies such as Samsung Electronics (Seoul: 005930), the No. 1 smartphone company, RIM's BlackBerry model uses its proprietary internal network for messages and e-mail as well as those of its respective telecommunications carriers.
The advantage provides extra security and affords RIM coveted status, such as providing BlackBerry devices to top government agencies.
Last week, RIM Marketing Director Frank Boulben invited more than 200 Canadian politicians to a reception in Ottawa where the BlackBerry 10 was featured and discussed. He said the company would conduct similar sessions with users rather than launch an expensive marketing campaign before the official launch.
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has slashed personnel and spending in an effort to turn around the company, which also faces threats from activist shareholders including Toronto's Vic Alboini of Jaguar Financial and New York's Leon Cooperman of Omega Advisers, who acquired minority stakes.
Founding CEOs Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balsillie were ousted in January, and Heins, a former executive with Germany's Siemens (NYSE: SI), hired a unit of Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE: RBY) and JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) for financial advice.
For the first half of its fiscal 2013, RIM reported net losses of $753 million and saw its share of the smartphone market dwindle to about 4.8 percent from 12 percent a year earlier. But investors were heartened when the company reported lower-than-expected losses in the second fiscal quarter of $235 million, or 45 cents a share on operations.
Shares of RIM on Monday afternoon traded at $8.81, up 27 cents. They've lost 39 percent of their value in 2012.
David Zielenziger is a veteran editor and journalist who has written for newspapers including the Baltimore Sun, Asian Wall Street Journal and EETimes, as well as for...