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First of new BlackBerrys ditches physical keyboard: RIM

Research in Motion Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins holds up a prototype of the BlackBerry 10 smartphone at the BlackBerry World event in Orlando May 1, 2012 . Research in Motion is set to launch a new generation of BlackBerry 10 smartphones later this year while continuing to lose market share to Apple's iPhone and Android devices.

DAVID MANNING/David Manning /REUTERS

BlackBerry enthusiasts who favour the device's traditional physical keyboard will have to wait to get one on Research in Motion's new smartphone models.

A spokeswoman for RIM has confirmed to The Canadian Press that the first BlackBerry 10 device will have touch-screen keyboards — but not physical ones.

However, Rebecca Freiburger says that the new operating system "will be offered on products with physical keyboards in the future."

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RIM expects to introduce the new phones by the end of the year but no specific date has been announced.

The news comes as RIM takes its BlackBerry 10 prototype to developers in Toronto today in the hopes of getting them onside and creating apps for the new platform.

The day-long event is part of the BlackBerry 10 Jam World Tour, which was most recently in New York and stretches throughout the summer.

The new operating system is seen as an important part of RIM's attempt to regain a position in the market it once dominated.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company has been working to turn around operations after watching its market share erode as Apple's iPhone and smartphones running Google's Android operating system grew in popularity — particularly in the United States.

Getting developers excited about creating apps for the BlackBerry 10 is a big part of that strategy.

RIM has also begun the grim task of cutting jobs in a bid to save $1-billion as part of a plan to right the company.

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It's looking for at least $1-billion in savings by the end of its 2013 financial year and job cuts are part of that plan.

RIM, which has not provided specific numbers regarding the cuts, is expected to deliver a business update when it reports its first-quarter results next week.

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