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RIM's Shot at Gold

RBC designates the BlackBerry maker as the top pick in the smartphone games.

WATERLOO, Ontario (


) --

Research In Motion


has slalomed through the difficult gates and is on track for a strong performance, says RBC.

Despite having to contend with


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big Android launches, the arrival of the



Droid and


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iPad introduction

, the BlackBerry maker is still on its skies.

Keen to the fact that RIM hasn't been upended as expected, RBC analyst Mike Abramsky upgraded RIM to his top pick of the sector.

The positives are still ahead, Abramsky wrote in a research note Friday. The key strengths he points to:

New cool consumer phones coming. (Pearl 3G, snore.)

"Super Apps" for BlackBerry. (Don't get your hopes up.)

A new Web-kit/touchscreen operating system. (A make or break moment here.)

The shakeout of a competitor. (Palm? )

RIM is the world's No. 2 smartphone maker, and consumers are still swapping up in the smartphone direction. This trend, fueled in large part by the success of Apple's iPhone, has helped lift RIM.

To stay in the race however,

RIM needs to answer the touchscreen challenge

soon. And as we reported last week,

RIM is coiled for a spring surprise

with the unveiling of a new operating system.

Also favoring RIM is the uncertain status of the next iPhone.


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had been a lock for getting the iPhone this summer, but


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has changed those assumptions.

AT&T has every intention of renewing its exclusive agreement with Apple

this year.

The risk for RIM is that Verizon's iPhone would easily become the center of all attention for the year, curbing any upside to BlackBerry sales at Verizon.

But if AT&T keeps the iPhone, RIM and Verizon will presumably forge an even stronger alliance this year.

RIM shares rose 2% Friday in the wake of RBC's bullish call. The stock is up 5% for the year after posting a 65% gain last year.

--Reported by Scott Moritz in New York

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