Research In Motion Ltd. (RIMM:US) climbed the most in almost a month after saying that wireless carriers had begun lab-testing BlackBerry 10 phones worldwide, a sign the devices are on track for delivery early next year.
“In the last week, BlackBerry 10 achieved lab entry with more than 50 carriers -- a key step in our preparedness for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the first quarter of 2013,” Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins said in an e-mailed statement.
RIM shares climbed 4.7 percent to $7.93 at the close in New York, the biggest jump since Oct. 2. The stock has lost 61 percent of its value over the past 12 months.
Carrier testing typically takes 60 to 90 days, which means that RIM “should have no trouble making its first-quarter deadline,” said Chris Umiastowski, an independent technology consultant who tracks the company. Ninety days from today would put the release in the late-January time frame.
Delivering the BlackBerry 10 on time is central to RIM’s plan to win back market share from Apple Inc. (AAPL:US)’s iPhone and devices running Google Inc. (GOOG:US)’s Android software. Peter Misek, an analyst at Jefferies & Co., said earlier this month that the new phones may not come out until March -- a prediction that sent RIM shares tumbling more than 5 percent.
The exact timing of BB10 phones going on sale will be up to carriers in the Americas, Europe, Australia, Asia and Africa, Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben said in September. It will hinge on how long they take to test the handsets.
“Lab entry at some carriers can take as little as six to nine weeks, and for some carriers, 16 to 20 weeks,” he said at the time. “That explains with a carrier whether it will be January or February.”
The BlackBerry 10 was delayed at least a year before the first-quarter release date was announced. Today’s statement is a good signal that there won’t be any more setbacks before the first BB10 devices are introduced, said Kevin Stadtler, president of Fort Worth, Texas-based Stadtler Capital Management, which owns about 40,000 RIM shares.
“The lab tests are incrementally positive and gets RIM closer to production units,” he said.
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