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Microsoft Surface launch fails to wobble RIM ahead of Blackberry releases

Microsoft just entered the business tablet market in a big way with its Surface tablet, but Research in Motion isn't sweating, Martyn Mallick, RIM's vice president of global alliances and business development, said this week.

"When we look at BlackBerry 10 and what it delivers as a platform, we're really confident," he said. "I don't see any immediate changes from my perspective."

At a developers' event in New York on Tuesday, RIM acknowledged that it needs its new BlackBerry 10 OS to survive and even joked about current delays, showing a video to the tune of Tom Petty's "The Waiting (Is The Hardest Part)."

RIM has also been suffering from a lot of bad news recently: Contract manufacturer Celestica said it won't make phones for RIM any more; the company stopped making the 16GB version of its PlayBook tablet; Bloomberg says RIM may have to write off a vast number of unsold devices, and its North American market share is in free fall.

But at the developer event, RIM offered up some stats that seem to contradict the gloomy news: over the last year the number of vendors in RIM's app store has grown by 254 percent and the number of apps submitted has grown by 226 percent. BlackBerry apps generate 40 percent more revenue for their developers than Android apps, the company said.

For BlackBerry 10, every app that meets certain quality standards is guaranteed $10,000 (around £6,400) in sales - if it doesn't hit that level, RIM will cut a check to make up the difference, Mallick said.

There are two reasons for these two conflicting trends, Mallick said. First of all, BlackBerrys are selling, just not in North America. "If you look in places like Asia/Pacific, Latin America, South Africa and parts of Europe, the business is growing," he said.

It's also that BlackBerry users are steadily downloading more apps with time, he said.

"We see this steep incline happening in terms of engagement [with apps,]" he said.

And the BlackBerry App World offers more fertile ground for developers than some other stores do, Mallick insisted. RIM's store has credit card, Paypal and carrier billing, and tries to balance the best aspects of the 'open' Android Market with those of the curated Apple App Store. For example, RIM will give quality app developers a 'certified apps' badge and promote only meaningful, high-quality apps on its browsing pages, Mallick said.

RIM has been able to entice about 5,000 small developers to its 23 global developer events, and it's working with big-name developers such as Gameloft, Fish Labs, and Accuweather as well, Mallick said.

But all of this is dependent on RIM actually producing BlackBerry 10 devices before it gets run out of the market. The company had nothing to add on that score; it demoed the same BlackBerry 10 features which we saw back at the beginning of May at BlackBerry World. In its Tom Petty pastiche, company reps sang, "It's Not. Quite. Ready. Yet."

BlackBerry 10 still has no release date. But then again, neither does Microsoft Surface.