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RIM Coiled for Spring Surprise: Rumor

Hoping to silence critics, BlackBerry maker RIM is preparing a new touchscreen phone to vie against Apple and Google.



) -- Finally, some signs that the creative sap is running again at

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RIM has been fairly criticized for losing a step or two in the mobile phone race as touchscreen models from


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snapped up the design lead and ran off with the smartphone crowd.

But recent rumors suggest that two new BlackBerries are on the way this spring, and one of the phones may feature a long-awaited, touch-enabled Web-friendly operating system.

Blackberry Storm2

Apparently, RIM staffers are very pleased with the new operating system, says one analyst who was privy to a description of the new user interface and RIM's reaction.

While still the leading smartphone maker in the U.S., RIM has been overshadowed by Apple's iPhone and Google's host of Android phones that feature Apps, built-in social network access, and full Web browsing.

RIM was assailed by critics

who say the BlackBerry shop has been lagging behind competitors with outdated software.

The new touchscreen BlackBerry is expected to resemble the typical BlackBerry Bold format with a keypad and a screen sharing one side. The new version will likely replace the conventional screen with a touchscreen and keep the keyboard below.

The second phone is a new 3G BlackBerry Pearl. One person who has tested the Pearl was impressed with the speed and easy operation of the optical tracker, which replaces the scroll ball.

RIM remains dominant as a mobile phone and email device for business users, but BlackBerry's success in the consumer market is a far bigger challenge as phone buyers care less about email and more about the songs, games and videos they can play and the quality of the ease of a phone's social network connections.

Its late arrival to the so-called Web-kit operating systems aside, RIM has a strong track record for making updates. It is good to see RIM still has the competitive juice and a desire to get back on top of its game.

-- Written by Scott Moritz in New York

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