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RIM CEO Thorsten Heins gestures while talking about the new BlackBerry 10 at the BlackBerry Jam Americas conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Eric Risberg/AP)
RIM CEO Thorsten Heins gestures while talking about the new BlackBerry 10 at the BlackBerry Jam Americas conference in San Jose, Calif., Tuesday, Sept. 25, 2012. (Eric Risberg/AP)

RIM shares rise on new phone hopes Add to ...

These days, even a little bit of good news is enough to send Research In Motion Ltd. shares soaring.

Investors reacted positively on Tuesday as RIM showcased more features of its upcoming line of smartphones and – more importantly – assured customers that the new phones were still due out in the first quarter of 2013. RIM shares jumped more than 5 per cent on Tuesday after the news, which came during a developer event in California. Still, many analysts remain skeptical about the firm’s future, even as it puts all its resources into the new smartphone launch.

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During the event, RIM executives also said that applications from all the major social networks would be available for the new BlackBerrys at the time of launch. In a speech to developers, the executives showed off one such application for the social networking site Facebook.

While some of the live demonstrations of new BlackBerry software and hardware might not have always been glitch-free, they nonetheless reassured investors. Recently, RIM has made a major effort to convince developers – some of them disillusioned by the firm’s shrinking market share – to build applications for the new BlackBerry operating system and phones, which together are referred to as the BlackBerry 10 platform. RIM has held dozens of “BlackBerry Jam” events around the world in the past few months to give developers a close look at the new platform.

On Tuesday, at a similar event in San Jose, Calif., RIM announced more developer tools for BlackBerry 10. In effect, these tools allow developers to build apps for the new phones in a variety of programming languages, making life easier for programmers and – RIM hopes – resulting in more BlackBerry apps.

RIM also announced its user base has jumped to 80 million users, up from 78 million in the last quarter. While the jump may not seem like much, many analysts had actually expected RIM to start losing subscribers. But as Raymond James analyst Steven Li pointed out in a report to clients, many of those new subscribers will have come from emerging markets, where RIM tends to sell cheaper, lower-margin phones. In North America, where smartphone manufacturers tend to sell their highest-end, highest-magin phones, RIM has struggled for years to keep from losing market share to competitors such as Apple and Samsung.

RIM has yet to fully showcase the new BlackBerry 10 phones to the public, but showed off some of the new platform’s features at the San Jose event on Tuesday. In particular, the company gave demonstrations of new tools that make it easier to check all communications from a central location on the phone, instead of having to access separate apps.

RIM is expected to post its second-quarter results after market close on Thursday. Investors will be watching closely for more updates on BlackBerry 10, and for information on how many older BlackBerrys RIM is still able to sell while awaiting the new models.

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