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RIM Looks to Break Out

As out of the spotlight as this company can get, BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIMM) has been doing just fine, thank you.

While its rivals have hogged the spotlight in the last two months -- Apple's (AAPL) much-anticipated iPhone and the furious takeover chatter surrounding Palm (PALM) have garnered the headlines -- RIM has launched the latest addition to its product family, the BlackBerry 8800, and wrapped up its internal stock-option accounting investigation..

The launch of the 8800 device, a sophisticated version of its consumer-targeted Pearl, has been a success, say analysts. Combined with continued demand for the Pearl, it should help RIM beat expectations when the company reports fourth-quarter earnings after the bell on Wednesday.

RIM introduced the 8800 in February, added a million email subscribers during the quarter and is expected to have sold about 2.1 million of all its devices in the fourth quarter.

"Our checks suggest that sales of the 8800 are off to a strong start at the Cingular channel," wrote T. Michael Walkley, senior research analyst with Piper Jaffray in his research report, "and Pearl remains one of the top-selling smartphones in North America." Piper Jaffray makes a market in RIM shares.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial expect RIM to post revenue of $933.2 million, up 66% from the year before, and earnings of 99 cents a share.

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