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    Monday, May 12, 2008

    Reuters - RIM's BlackBerry Bold aims at business users

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    RIM's BlackBerry Bold aims at business users

    Monday, May 12, 2008 6:37PM UTC

    By Wojtek Dabrowski

    TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd is launching a new high-end version of the BlackBerry aimed at its core base of business users, but it hopes the sleek new smartphone will also catch on with the broader retail market.

    Shares of RIM jumped on Monday, climbing C$8.76, or 6.6 percent, to C$142.11 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On Nasdaq, the stock was up $8.84, or 6.7 percent, at $141.61.

    The BlackBerry Bold, as the new smartphone is called, is the first BlackBerry to support high-speed HSDPA cellular networks and comes with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia features.

    "It's really a step up in function in many core aspects of the system," RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in an interview.

    The smartphone rolls out globally this summer and will cost between $300 and $400, he said. AT&T will be its lead carrier in the United States.

    Citi Investment Research analyst Jim Suva wrote in a note to clients that the timing of the launch of the third-generation smartphone was ahead of his expectations. Third generation, or 3G, essentially refers to advanced and high-speed wireless services.

    "We had expected a 3G device later this year," he wrote. "We estimate the Bold could increase RIM's quarterly shipments by 200,000 to 400,000."

    While Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM hopes the Bold will entice corporate users to upgrade the handsets they currently use, Balsillie said he "wouldn't be surprised if it gets picked up by the consumer."

    The device will be a test of whether the shaky U.S. economy is making corporations less willing to spend on new wireless hardware. Some analysts have expressed concern that companies will delay upgrades or cut back on spending on items such as the BlackBerry.

    RIM helped dispel such worries last month when it delivered a higher fourth-quarter profit and a robust outlook.

    UBS analyst Jeffrey Fan wrote in a note to clients he expects the company to launch between three or four new devices this year.

    "We believe RIM's broadening portfolio should widen its appeal to the mass market," he wrote.

    The Bold features the most vivid display ever on a BlackBerry, a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capability, and a media player for watching movies and managing music collections.

    This isn't the first time a BlackBerry has been loaded with multimedia features to catch the eye of the retail customer. RIM has actively worked at diversifying its client base away from the executives, lawyers and other professionals who use the BlackBerry for sending secure wireless e-mail.

    More than a third of RIM's 14 million subscribers are now classified as nongovernment and noncorporate.

    The company has also rolled out customer-oriented applications such as Facebook software specifically designed for the BlackBerry. Last month, RIM said downloads of the application had topped the 1 million mark.

    And in a separate announcement on Monday, RIM and Microsoft said they will provide Microsoft Windows Live services such as instant messaging and e-mail on the BlackBerry.

    Its pursuit of consumers has put RIM in increasingly direct competition with devices such as Apple's iPhone, which target the broad retail market.

    Still, Balsillie said the Bold is aimed first and foremost at the business, or enterprise, audience.

    "It's pretty fair to say that the Bold does quite a job for cementing our leadership in the (enterprise) side," he said. "We understand our roots and we understand the priority there."

    RIM also announced that, along with Royal Bank of Canada and Thomson Reuters, it will launch a $150 million venture capital fund that will invest in applications and services for the BlackBerry and other mobile platforms.

    ($1=$1.00 Canadian)

    (Reporting by Wojtek Dabrowski; editing by Peter Galloway)

    CNN - China: Quake death toll jumps past 7,600

    Sent from bombastic4000@gmail.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    China: Quake death toll jumps past 7,600


    More than 7,600 people have been killed by Monday's powerful earthquake in just one affected region of central China, the Chinese government said.

    State-run news agency Xinhua said the official toll had risen to 7,651 in Sichuan Province.

    In addition, at least 48 people were killed in the northwest Gansu Province, Xinhua said.

    Authorities had earlier said they believed about 10,000 people were injured in Beichuan County in the northeastern part of the province.

    The Sichuan provincial disaster relief headquarters said 80 percent of the buildings collapsed in the Beichuan Qiang Autonomous County after the 7.8-magnitude quake, Xinhua reported.

    Several hundred students were also feared to be buried in collapsed school buildings, the agency said.

    China's Seismological Bureau said the earthquake had affected more than half the country's provinces and municipalities.

    President George W. Bush released a statement saying the United States "stands ready to help in any way possible."

    "I am particularly saddened by the number of students and children affected by this tragedy," Bush said.

    In Sichuan's Shifang city, the quake buried hundreds of people in two collapsed chemical plants, and more than 80 tons of ammonia leaked out, Xinhua said.

    The local government evacuated 6,000 civilians from the area after homes and factories were also destroyed.

    The quake was "felt in most parts of China," Xinhua reported, with the confirmed casualties in the provinces and municipality of Sichuan, Gansu, Chongqing and Yunnan.

    Xinhua said several schools collapsed, at least partially, in the quake.

    At one, as many as 900 students were feared buried. At least 50 bodies have been pulled from the rubble at the high school in the Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan City in Wenchuan County.

    "Some buried teenagers were struggling to break loose from underneath the ruins while others were crying out for help," Xinhua reported.

    "Grieved parents watched as five cranes were excavating at the site and an ambulance was waiting.

    "An unknown number of students were also reported buried after buildings collapsed at five other schools in the province's Deyang City."

    One person was killed in Santai County, in the city of Mianyang, when a water tower fell, the news agency reported.

    A provincial government spokesman said they feared more dead and injured in collapsed houses in Dujiangyan City, Xinhua reported.

    The news agency also quoted a driver for the seismological bureau saying he saw "rows of houses collapsed" in Dujiangyan.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao immediately ordered an all-out effort to help victims of the earthquakes, Xinhua reported. It said Premier Wen Jiabao would go there to direct the rescue work.

    Bonnie Thie, the country director the Peace Corps, was on a university campus in Chengdu about 100 km from the epicenter, in the eastern part of China's Sichuan province, when the first quake hit.

    "You could see the ground shaking," Thie told CNN.

    The shaking "went on for what seemed like a very long time," she said.

    "This is a very dangerous earthquake," said Bruce Presgrave, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

    The quake had the potential to cause major damage because of its strength and proximity to major population centers, he said.

    In addition, the earthquake was relatively shallow, Presgrave said, and those kinds of quakes tend to do more damage near the epicenter than deeper ones.

    An earthquake with 7.5 magnitude in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan killed 255,000 people in 1976 -- the greatest death toll from an earthquake in the last four centuries and the second greatest in recorded history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Tangshan is roughly 1,600 km from Chengdu, the nearest major city to the epicenter of Monday's quake.

    After the first quake struck Monday, the ground shook as far away as Beijing, which is 1,500 km from the epicenter.

    They felt "a very quiet rolling sensation" that lasted for about a minute, according to CNN correspondent John Vause.

    "Our building began to sway," he said.

    Thousands of people were evacuated from Beijing high-rises immediately after the earthquake.

    At least six more earthquakes -- measuring between 4.0 and 6.0 magnitudes -- happened nearby over the three hours after the initial quake at at 2:28 p.m. local time (0728 GMT), the USGS reported.

    A spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Committee said no Olympic venues were affected by the earthquake. The massive Three Gorges Dam -- roughly 600 km east of the epicenter -- was not damaged, a spokesman said.

    The earthquake was also felt in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, and as far away as Hanoi, Vietnam, and Bangkok, Thailand, according to the Hong Kong-based Mandarin-language channel Phoenix TV.

    CNN - Report: 3,000 feared dead in China quake

    Sent from bombastic4000@gmail.com's mobile device from http://www.cnn.com.

    Report: 3,000 feared dead in China quake


    At least 3,000 people are feared dead in Monday's earthquake in China's Sichuan Province, state-run news agency Xinhua said.

    Citing local officials, Xinhua said at least 3,000 were thought to be dead in Beichuan County, part of Sichuan Province.

    Earlier, Xinhua had said at least 107 people died in the 7.8-magnitude quake that rocked central China and left several hundred students feared buried in collapsed school buildings.

    The quake was "felt in most parts of China," Xinhua reported, with the confirmed casualties in the provinces and municipality of Sichuan, Gansu, Chongqing and Yunnan.

    Xinhua said several schools collapsed, at least partially, in the quake.

    At one, as many as 900 students were feared buried.

    "Some buried teenagers were struggling to break loose from underneath the ruins while others were crying out for help," Xinhua reported.

    "Grieved parents watched as five cranes were excavating at the site and an ambulance was waiting."

    Among the 107 dead were 55 in Sichuan Province, where 600 people were also injured, Xinhua said.

    One person was killed in Santai County, in the city of Mianyang, when a water tower fell, the news agency reported.

    Xinhua did not detail where the 107 deaths occurred, although it reported earlier that four students were killed and 110 hurt when a middle school building collapsed in Juyuan Township of Dujiangyan City, about 60 miles (100 kilometers) southeast of the epicenter.

    Another person was killed when a water tower fell in the city of Mianyang, the news agency reported.

    A provincial government spokesman said they feared more dead and injured in collapsed houses in Dujiangyan City in Wenchuan County, Xinhua reported.

    The news agency also quoted a driver for the seismological bureau saying he saw "rows of houses collapsed" in Dujiangyan.

    Chinese President Hu Jintao immediately ordered an all-out effort to help victims of the earthquakes, Xinhua reported. It said Premier Wen Jiabao would go there to direct the rescue work.

    Bonnie Thie, the country director the Peace Corps, was on a university campus in Chengdu about 60 miles from the epicenter, in the eastern part of China's Sichuan province, when the first quake hit.

    "You could see the ground shaking," Thie told CNN.

    The shaking "went on for what seemed like a very long time," she said.

    "This is a very dangerous earthquake," said Bruce Presgrave, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey.

    The quake had the potential to cause major damage because of its strength and proximity to major population centers, he said.

    In addition, the earthquake was relatively shallow, Presgrave said, and those kinds of quakes tend to do more damage near the epicenter than deeper ones.

    An earthquake with 7.5 magnitude in the northern Chinese city of Tangshan killed 255,000 people in 1976 -- the greatest death toll from an earthquake in the last four centuries and the second greatest in recorded history, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.

    Tangshan is roughly 995 miles (1,600 km) from Chengdu, the nearest major city to the epicenter of Monday's quake.

    After the first quake struck Monday, the ground shook as far away as Beijing, which is 950 miles (1,528 km) from the epicenter.

    They felt "a very quiet rolling sensation" that lasted for about a minute, according to CNN correspondent John Vause.

    "Our building began to sway," he said.

    Thousands of people were evacuated from Beijing high-rises immediately after the earthquake.

    At least six more earthquakes -- measuring between 4.0 and 6.0 magnitudes -- happened nearby over the three hours after the initial quake at at 2:28 p.m. local time (0728 GMT, 0228 ET), the USGS reported.

    A spokesman for the Beijing Olympic Committee said no Olympic venues were affected by the earthquake. The massive Three Gorges Dam -- roughly 400 miles east of the epicenter -- was not damaged, a spokesman said.

    The earthquake was also felt in Hong Kong, Shanghai, Taiwan, and as far away as Hanoi, Vietnam, and Bangkok, Thailand, according to the Hong Kong-based Mandarin-language channel Phoenix TV.

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