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New name, new BlackBerrys

Revamped company unveils latest model in effort to compete

Research In Motion renamed itself BlackBerry and unveiled the new BlackBerry 10 lineup at a Wednesday event in New York, aiming to lure back customers who have defected to Apple and Samsung Electronics.

Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins introduced a touch-screen phone called the Z10 and a model named the Q10 with a QWERTY keyboard, both of which will run the new BB10 software.

The Z10, which starts at $199 with a wireless contract, will be available today in Britain, Tuesday in Canada, and March in the United States. The Q10 will follow in coming weeks, the company said.

The event marks a do-or-die moment for Heins and the company, which has seen its market share fall to a quarter of what it was three years ago. They’re counting on the BlackBerry 10 to reverse that slide and ultimately return the company to profitability.

“This thing has to have legs,” said Gus Papageorgiou, an analyst at Scotia Capital in Toronto.

Heins and Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben have been crisscrossing the globe to show carriers and corporate customers the BlackBerry 10’s features, aiming to distinguish the product from Apple’s iPhone 5 or devices that run on Google’s Android platform. The touch version of the phone relies on a virtual keyboard that learns where you usually hit the keys, improving typing accuracy over time.

Its software also lets users check their email, calendars and other features without leaving the application they’re running, relying on a “hub” interface.

“Whatever you do, you’re always one swipe away from the heart of your activities,” Heins said at Wednesday’s event.

Heins has spent the past year overhauling the company, cutting 30 percent of its workforce and reorganizing the sales and marketing teams. The stock has more than doubled since late September, reflecting growing investor support for the CEO’s strategy and optimism that BlackBerry 10 phones can catch on with consumers.

The board has approved the new name, and BlackBerry will begin trading under the ticker BBRY on the Nasdaq Stock Market.

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