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RIM Answers Stock Drop with Bevy of Announcements

Mon, 05/02/2011 - 8:10am
Andrew Berg

Research In Motion (RIM) today unveiled a couple of new BlackBerry devices, a new iteration of BlackBerry OS (BlackBerry 7 OS) and a couple of important new app additions to the BlackBerry Playbook. All of these announcements come a day ahead of the annual BlackBerry World conference (May 3-5).

Two new BlackBerry Bold smartphones, the Bold 9900 and 9930, add to RIM's expanding line of touchscreen devices and will be the first devices to come running BlackBerry 7 OS.

Spec-wise, the two phones are almost identical, aside from the fact that the 9900 supports HSPA+ and GSM and the 9930 is CDMA, HSPA+ and GSM. These are RIM's thinnest smartphones yet; both come in at 10.5 mm thick.  Both phones feature a 1.2 GHz processor and 768 MB of RAM, 8GB internal (expandable to 32GB), 5 MP camera, NFC technology, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi and GPS.

The new BlackBerry Bold 9900 and 9930 smartphones are expected to be available from carriers around the world beginning this summer.

RIM also has overhauled its BlackBerry OS. The new iteration of the BlackBerry OS, BlackBerry 7 OS, offers a number of new features. 

BlackBerry 7 features BlackBerry Balance, which allows users to separate personal content from corporate content. Users will have the option of using their handset for personal email, Facebook, Twitter, multimedia, games and other apps, while keeping their corporate data secure.

BlackBerry Balance works in conjunction with BlackBerry Enterprise Server 5.0.3, which provides a number of IT policy controls, such as wiping only corporate data from the handset or blocking work-related content and apps from being copied or forwarded to personal contacts.

The company says it has "significantly enhanced" the browser with BlackBerry 7. The new BlackBerry devices feature something called Liquid Graphics in their displays, which helps deliver faster rendering and seamless panning and zooming. The BlackBerry 7 browser also includes a JavaScript compiler to improve the load time speed of web pages. The new browser also supports additional HTML5 elements, such as HTML5 Video.

The company also took time to address the BlackBerry PlayBook, which has seen tepid reviews since its release.  RIM today announced a video chat application for the PlayBook, as well as a Facebook app that has been optimized for the company's tablet.

And if BlackBerry users weren't satisfied with a couple of new phones and a BlackBerry 7 OS, RIM today reached across the aisle to offer BlackBerry Enterprise Support (BES) for iOS and Android platforms.

 "We recognize the opportunity to continue leading in the enterprise market by providing customers with a common platform to help simplify the management of a variety of mobile devices," said Peter Devenyi, vice president, communications platform group at RIM, in a statement.

Today's announcements come on the heels of a massive drop in RIM shares on the company's revised guidance for the first quarter of 2011. RIM stock dropped over 13 percent in a matter of hours in response to financial analysts' reaction to the announcement.

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