RIM to launch new Blackberry operating system

Research in Motion, the Canadian manufacturer of the BlackBerry family of smartphones, confirmed that it will launch an updated version of its BlackBerry operating system later this year. The new software will support touch screen devices and include a faster web browser.

Mike Lazaridis, RIM’s co-chief executive showed a short video of the new operating system, dubbed OS 6.0, to the analysts attending RIM’s annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando, Florida.

The long awaited new operating system, described by Mr Lazaridis as one of the biggest overhauls in years, is a clear attempt by RIM to address the concerns of some BlackBerry users and position RIM to compete more effectively against rival smartphone manufacturers including Apple, HTC and Motorola.

BlackBerry users and some analysts have grown increasingly concerned over the past year that RIM’s ageing operating system lacked more advanced features found in newer rival smartphone operating systems including Google Android and Apple’s iPhone OS.

While Mr Lazaridis gave few details about the new software, analysts attending the meeting appeared impressed and RIM’s stock, which earlier in the day was down almost 3 per cent, rebounded to close the day up $2.08 or 2.95 per cent at $72.70 on the Nasdaq.

Mr Lazaridis said RIM was planning to launch the new operating system in the September quarter and was seeking to ensure that all BlackBerry devices would be able to run it. “We are going to try and do our best to allow people to upgrade to 6.0,” he said.

Earlier RIM announced updates to two of its existing BlackBerry models – a 3G version of its BlackBerry Pearl smartphone and a new version of its flagship BlackBerry Bold handset. The Bold handset will operate on the Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel networks in the US which use a mobile technology called CDMA.

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