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BlackBerry to launch new smartphone

BlackBerry's latest smartphones could see it become a force in mobile phones again after several years in decline, experts have said.

The launch of the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) handsets and software this Wednesday could lead to the firm's "resurrection", one said, after it saw its popularity wane in favour of phones like the Apple iPhone and Samsung Galaxy S3.

Another who has held and used the device ahead of the launch said it had "high specifications" that allowed users to do "good stuff in a couple of clicks", which would appeal to both businesses and consumers.

But another questioned whether the launch, delayed from last year, meant the brand's owner, Canadian firm Research In Motion (RIM), had left it too late.

Malik Kamal-Saadi, principal analyst with Informa, said the new operating system (OS) on the two expected handsets was a "trump card" that could see it win back customers lost through the poor performance of the previous BlackBerry 7 phones.

He said: "The 'experience' is very attractive for business users and consumers. BB10 has what is needed to seduce back in both developed markets (Europe and North America). I haven't seen anything like it in terms of the experience."

Mr Kamal-Saadi held and used the devices at RIM's European headquarters in Slough. He said the system would be appealing to both business and social high-end users in Europe and North America, where BlackBerry lost the most ground over the past two or three years. But he added that the software was akin to the first generation of iPhones in being so radically different it may take people a little while to get used to it.

Investors will "leap into the sky" if BB10 sells more than four million units in the first three months on sale, he said, but sales of between one and two million would be okay. Anything less than one million would be a "big mess". He pointed out that the first iPhone, which went on to become a phenomenon, did not exceed four million sales in the first quarter year of sales and the less popular Windows phone sold between one-and-a-half and two million.

BlackBerry's handsets revolutionised white-collar working a decade ago and are widely credited with kick-starting the smartphone boom. BlackBerry plans to launch two handsets, the Z10 and X10 on Wednesday. Pictures leaked online purporting to be the Z10 show a touchscreen phone along similar lines to the iPhone. The X10 is believed to be more of a classic BlackBerry, with a Qwerty keyboard.

Ernest Doku, technology expert with uSwitch.com, said: "For RIM and BlackBerry, it is very much the resurrection of the BlackBerry brand. Consumers have been waiting a long time to see what they were coming up with. They have fallen to the wayside but a lot of signs are pointing to this being their return to relevance in the smartphone market."

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