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BlackBerry 10 OS undergoing operator testing ahead of early 2013 launch

Research In Motion (RIM) has confirmed that it has begun testing its BlackBerry 10 platform with more than 50 mobile operators.

The company called the move "a critical milestone" in the development of the operating system, which is expected to launch in the first quarter of 2013.

"I have spent the last several weeks on the road visiting with carrier partners around the world to show them the BlackBerry 10 platform and to share with them our plans for launch," RIM CEO Thorsten Heins said in a statement. "Their response has been tremendous."

In order to certify BB10 for use on their networks, operators have to test and certify the system through the "lab entry" process, which could take up to several weeks.

Heins said the RIM team is still working to prepare for the technical and commercial launch of the OS. The CEO has already met with operators in Canada, Mexico, and the US, and is planning trips to Europe, Asia, and Africa soon.

"The hard work will not stop here as we build toward launch," Heins said.

Developers are now crafting applications for BlackBerry 10, and RIM's enterprise teams have started presenting BB10 devices and services to business customers.

"Our engineers are fully mobilized to ensure that BlackBerry 10 launches flawlessly in the first quarter of 2013," Heins said.

This may be RIM's last chance to impress. In July, the company had to fend off rumours that it was falling into a "death spiral," as Heins put it. The Ontario, Canada-based company announced brutally low financial results this summer, and has already pushed back the rollout of BlackBerry 10 from late 2012 to early 2013.