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Tech Rumor of the Day: RIM

As Research In Motion (RIMM) gets set to open its annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium in Orlando next week, analysts and gadget fans are expecting an introduction to the BlackBerry Niagara.

This will sound familiar to Tech Rumor readers who may recall that reported last month that the Niagara, a so-called 3G world phone, meaning it works on U.S. and European networks, will be available in May at Verizon (VZ).

But while the Niagara announcement is expected, RIM has another product surprise in store. Apparently the BlackBerry maker will also unveil Apex, a flip phone for Verizon, according to a source familiar with the company.

The Apex is also a 3G phone and similar to the Pearl Flip at Deutsche Telekom's (DT) U.S. wireless unit T-Mobile, according to the source.

Assuming there are no delays, the arrival of two new BlackBerries in May will help both RIM and Verizon gain some ground ahead of several hotly anticipated new smartphones expected in the coming months. Apple (AAPL) is expected to introduce a new iPhone this summer. And Palm (PALM) is due to unveil the eagerly awaited Pre phone as early as next month.

And, come fall, Nokia (NOK) is expected to introduce three touchscreen smartphones aimed directly at Apple and RIM.

The Apex and Niagara could give Verizon a boost as sales of the BlackBerry Storm cool off. Plus, the popular Curve has now been around for a year.

Verizon, which became the largest wireless telco in the U.S. with the acquisition of Alltel, has been the subject of recent speculation as big names like Apple and Microsoft (MSFT) have reportedly been interested in discussing smartphone plans.

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