BB10 test phones issued to mobile carriers from next week
Research in Motion [RIM] is to start the roll-out of beta versions of its new smartphones next week in what could prove a crucial factor in whether it survives as a company. CEO, Thorsten Heins, who just yesterday [14th August 2012] revealed the manufacturer might also be licensing out its BlackBerry 10 OS on which the new handsets are based, has confirmed two versions of the new handset will be delivered to network carriers during a five week roadshow.Heins, who took the top job at RIM earlier this year, had originally promised the new Blackberrys would be ready this year, but then in June  pushed back the release to Q1 2013 – blaming the delay on problems with software integration.
Production of the test devices will be increased over the next few months, with one device featuring an all touch-screen phone similar to Apple’s iPhone, the other housing a keyboard.
Ultimately RIM will release six handsets, half with keyboards.
The success of the phones, and that of the Canadian manufacturer itself, is heavily dependent on the reception they get from US carriers such as AT&T and Verizon Wireless [part owned by Britain's Vodafone], who can choose to endorse them with vital marketing campaigns – or not.
Wireless carriers will demand new smartphones pass various tests from network compliance to battery, call and web browing performance.
As a new operating system, BB10 will face even more stringent, and typically time consuming, tests.
RIM’s failure to compete with the likes of Apple and Samsung has seen its stock crash by 90 per cent in recent years, though there has been a renewal of confidence among some big-name investors with Canadian tycoon Prem Watsa, who is also a RIM director, alone doubling his stake in the company last month to just under 10 per cent.