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RIM Scrambles to Launch Better LTE Devices

Sarah Thomas
4/3/2012
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BlackBerry is late to market with Long Term Evolution (LTE) devices, one of its many problems that it is now scrambling to rectify.



But, the BlackBerry maker may be angling to make up for its tardiness with handsets that simply work better on LTE, according to independent Canadian tech analyst Carmi Levy.

"Where RIM has a potential window of opportunity lies in the technical glitches that have plagued first-generation LTE smartphones," he writes in an email to LR Mobile. "Specifically, battery life has, for the most part, been abysmal, and apps and services that specifically take advantage of these higher-speed, more robust networks have been virtually absent."

RIM's line of QNX-based BlackBerry 10 smartphones will come to market later this year, and Levy expects them all to be fully LTE-compliant. The OS has been delayed several times, which RIM execs blamed on the lack of chipsets that are of high enough efficiency and low enough power to run on LTE. (See RIM Blames Chipsets for BlackBerry 10 Delay and RIM Open to Licensing BlackBerry 10.)

The company has kept quiet on what chipmaker it's working with on LTE, but it appears to be doing its part to address the pitfalls on its own as well. RIM is hiring for more than 30 positions focused on LTE-related functions, including several LTE Layer 1 Software Developers in its hometown of Ontario, Canada.

One description includes the "investigation and resolution of integration and performance issues." Another seeks a developer on 12-month contract to do "performance analysis and optimization of next generation HSxPA and LTE technologies"

Levy speculates that a good chunk of RIM's R&D spend outside of the OS is going toward figuring out ways to add value in the 4G space, of which battery life is a big part. An exclusive chipmaker deal coupled with some savvy internal developers to create "super-apps" for LTE could be the best way for RIM to differentiate BlackBerry 10, he says. (See RIM Sprouts BlackBerry Apps.)

"This will take a tremendous amount of support from and partnership with third party application developers -- which has been the company's Achilles Heel to-date -- but the opportunity nevertheless remains RIM's to pursue," Levy says.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Reporter, Light Reading Mobile

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