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RIM May Debut Slider BlackBerry at Aug. 3 Event, Analysts Say

Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, plans to hold an event Aug. 3 that may be a debut of a new model with a slide-out keyboard, analysts said.

The invitation for the unspecified event in New York includes AT&T Inc.’s logo and was sent to people in the media.

“I would suspect this would be the new BlackBerry 9800, a touch-screen slider phone,” said Tavis McCourt, an analyst with Morgan Keegan & Co. in Nashville, Tennessee, who has an “outperform” rating on RIM stock “It was well known it was with AT&T and they’d said they’d have two devices later in their fiscal second quarter.”

RIM, best known for handsets with a full keyboard, has struggled to create a touch-screen device that can compete with Apple Inc.’s iPhone partly because of a Web browser that makes Internet surfing harder. Avian Securities LLC analyst Matt Thornton also said he expects the event to be a debut for a slider phone with the new BlackBerry 6 operating system.

It’s an important chance for RIM to prove its critics wrong, said Thornton, who is based in Boston and rates the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s stock “positive.”

Fletcher Cook, a spokesman for Dallas-based AT&T, declined to comment on the event. Marisa Conway, a spokeswoman for RIM, didn’t immediately return a message seeking comment.

Co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie told analysts last month that RIM plans to introduce two devices around the end of the quarter that runs through August and the start of the next.

RIM fell 4.2 percent today to $53.18 in Nasdaq Stock Market trading. It has declined 21 percent this year while Apple has gained 25 percent.

“There is a bear contingent out there that think RIM’s software capabilities will never close the gap with Apple,” Thornton said. “All eyes are on this.”

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