RIM seen unveiling "iPhone killer" next week

Shares of BlackBerry smartphone maker Research In Motion jumped early on Wednesday on speculation it is set to unveil a long-awaited touchscreen handset designed to battle Apple's popular iPhone.

RIM is expected to announce the launch of the slider 9800 handset at a joint BlackBerry-AT&T event in New York next Tuesday morning.

"The timing makes sense (for this to be the 9800 launch)," said Avian Securities analyst Matt Thornton.

"The earlier they are going to say it is going to be available on the shelves the better. They don't want to miss one of the key seasons," he added, referring to the lucrative back-to-school period for retailers.

RIM's share of the North American market has been eroded by the easier-to-use touchscreen iPhone and a slew of smartphones that use Google's Android operating system.

The handset is likely to be launched in Canada and Western Europe later in the year, in time for the holiday season, Thornton said.

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