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Delays push BlackBerry 10 rollout to 2013

Research in Motion today announced that it will delay the rollout of its BlackBerry 10 operating system until the first quarter of 2013.

During an earnings call yesterday, CEO Thorsten Heins blamed the hold-up on porting new features into the platform, which he said has been "more challenging and time consuming than anticipated."

He stressed that the delay was "not related to quality or functionality." Instead, RIM was required to manage a "large volume of incoming code," and over the last few weeks, "it has become clear that the schedule we were working towards ... is no longer realistic."

RIM unveiled BlackBerry 10 at BlackBerry World in early May, which Heins said today was just a "sneak preview" of the platform. At the time, it tipped a late 2012 release, but now we won't actually see it on BlackBerry devices until the first few months of 2013.

"RIM development teams are relentlessly focused on ensuring reliability," Heins continued. "I will not deliver a product to the market that's not ready to meet the needs of our customers. There will be no compromise on this issue."

Heins insisted that many global carrier partners "actually prefer a Q1 launch," but did not elaborate.

In the meantime, Heins said BlackBerry will move ahead with pushing BlackBerry 7 into the market.

RIM also discussed the 5,000 job cuts it confirmed last week, which will lead to savings of approximately $1 billion (£640 million). Heins said RIM will "move forward as swiftly as possible" on those layoffs. They will occur over the remaining three quarters of 2012, but "we intend to notify those affected as quickly as possible," Heins said.

On that note, RIM continued its executive shuffle; Steve Zipperstein joins RIM from Verizon as chief legal counsel.

Overall, RIM shipped 7.8 million BlackBerry smartphones, down from 11.1 million last quarter. It also shipped 260,000 PlayBook tablets, down from "over 500,000" last quarter. Heins said today that RIM is now sold out of the 16GB PlayBooks, which it plans to discontinue. Right now, the firm is prepping a 4G LTE version of the tablet, which "is in the final stages of testing" and will launch "in the near future," he said.

Earlier this week, there were reports that RIM would split its business. Heins confirmed today that RIM has hired advisors to examine how best to leverage the BlackBerry platform.