Research in Motion is expected to unveil a new touchscreen BlackBerry next week to rival Apple's iPhone and other smartphones, like ones using Google's Android operating system.
Shares of RIM were up Wednesday on the speculation, reports Reuters.
The new BlackBerry 9800 is expected to be launched at an event in New York City on Tuesday next week. AT&T, which is expected to be the exclusive carrier for the new phone, will be joining RIM for the announcement. CNET reported news of the press conference earlier this week.
For months, bloggers and others watching RIM closely have speculated that the new BlackBerry 9800 will be the first to use RIM's new operating system, BlackBerry OS 6. This new software comes with a revamped Web browser, which should help it compete more aggressively with more Web-centric devices like the iPhone, as well as devices that use the Google Android operating system.
The BlackBerry 9800 is also expected to offer a touch screen and a full slide-out keyboard. The new phone is being viewed as RIM's big chance to silence critics who say the company's technology and products look a bit long in the tooth compared to other devices in the market.
While RIM has done well selling low-end BlackBerry devices throughout the world, it is starting to slip in the high end of the smartphone category, especially in North America, where new iPhones and Android devices get more attention from consumers. RIM is also facing more competition from other smartphone makers in the enterprise market, as more companies start letting employees swap BlackBerrys for other smartphones, Reuters said.
The new BlackBerry 9800 is expected to go on sale in mid-August in the U.S., the news agency reports. Pricing for the device is still unknown, but consumers can expect it to be competitive with other new smartphones, which typically means around $200 with a two-year contract after rebates.
RIM is not commenting on the rumors of the new 9800 phone.