New BlackBerry won't be released in US until March

BBM

Research In Motion Ltd. unveiled new, versatile BlackBerrys after excruciating delays allowed Apple, Samsung and others to build commanding leads in an industry that is redefining society. But the first phone won't come out in the United States until March, and one with a physical keyboard will take at least a month longer.

The stock fell 12 percent after Wednesday's kickoff, despite mostly positive reviews about the new BlackBerry 10 operating system. There's concern the phone isn't coming out sooner, and there's worry BlackBerry 10's advances won't be enough to turn the company around.

In a move underscoring the stakes riding on its make-or-break product lineup, RIM used the occasion to announce that it is changing the company's name to BlackBerry. It's a pioneering brand that lost its cachet not long after Apple's 2007 release of the iPhone, which reset expectations for what a smartphone should do.

Pioneered in 1999, BlackBerry became a game-changing breakthrough in personal connectedness. It changed the culture by allowing on-the-go business people to access wireless email. President Barack Obama couldn't bear to part with his BlackBerry. Oprah Winfrey declared it one of her "favorite things.'' It was so addictive at times that it was nicknamed "the CrackBerry.''

As the BlackBerry began to cross over to consumers, rivals came out with a new generation of phones that could do more than just email and messaging, starting with the iPhone and followed by devices running Google's Android system. Suddenly, the BlackBerry looked ancient.

RIM promised a new system to catch up, using technology it got through its 2010 purchase of QNX Software Systems. But it has taken more than two years to unveil new phones that are redesigned for the new multimedia, Internet browsing and apps experience that customers are now demanding.

CEO Thorsten Heins, who one year ago replaced longtime executives who had presided over BlackBerry's fall, formally unveiled the much-delayed smartphones and software Wednesday in New York. Simultaneous events were held in Toronto, London, Paris, Dubai, Johannesburg, New Delhi and Jakarta, Indonesia.

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