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RIM sets BlackBerry 10 launch date

Research In Motion, the company behind the BlackBerry brand, has finally set a date for the launch of its next-generation BlackBerry 10 mobile platform: the 30th of January 2013.

Built on the QNX-based operating system originally developed for Research In Motion's BlackBerry PlayBook tablet, the BlackBerry 10 operating system is designed to help the company compete with modern smartphone platforms like Apple's iOS and Google's Android.

BlackBerry 10 was originally scheduled to launch in early 2012, but the company admitted late last year that delays would lead to a second-half launch in 2012. With that second half now drawing to a close, RIM has missed even that deadline - but hopes to repair the damage with a launch event scheduled for the first month of 2013.

The first handset designed for BlackBerry 10 use will be the BlackBerry London, itself based on the BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha handset created by the company earlier this year for developers to practice porting their applications. As a result, buyers can expect to see a touch-screen only device - a major departure from the company's usual keyboard-centric design ethos - with a 4.2in 1280x768 high-definition display, 16GB of storage, a microSD card slot, and a 'learning' on-screen keyboard for rapid typing.

In recent years, BlackBerry has lost serious ground to its rivals in the smartphone market. Its messaging-centric phones were once the must-have brand among both corporate types and chat-hungry teenagers, but the explosion of interest in smartphones caught the company on the hop with major losses to Apple's iPhone and Samsung's Android-based devices. BlackBerry 10 is the company's best effort to fight back, but with the delays mounting up it could prove too little too late for a market already invested in rival platforms.

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