Will RIM's Revamped BlackBerry Take On The iPhone?

RIM is expected to reveal a new touchscreen BlackBerry next week. The BlackBerry 9800 is expected to feature a new operating system, a revamped web browser, and a full slide-out keyboard. With these features, many are hoping the new phone will better compete against the likes of the Apple iPhone and other popular smartphones on the market today.

The launch of the BlackBerry 9800 is expected at a joint event between RIM and AT&T next Tuesday, and AT&T is expected to get exclusive rights to sell the device. According to analysts, a smooth launch is critical for RIM, whose stock has fallen by a third in the past year as other popular smartphones eat into its share of the North American market.

Given Apple's recent missteps with the iPhone 4 antenna issues, RIM's timing could be ideal. Nick Agostino, an analyst for Mackie Research Capital said, "This is an opportunity for RIM to respond, not only on the operating system and browser-side, but equally importantly, that they have a nice smooth operating piece of hardware."

RIM provided a sneak peek of the new OS and its faster, more accurate Web browser in April and promised a launch would come before the end of August.

The BlackBerry 9800 is expected to hit shelves in the middle of August, just in time for the back-to-school retailing period.