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New 3G RIM Blackberry for AT&T Delayed - Sources

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NEW YORK (Dow Jones) Research in Motion's latest Blackberry for AT&T will be delayed by several months, according to people close to the companies.

RIM, of Waterloo, Ontario, has been working for years to develop a Blackberry that can run on AT&T's faster third-generation, or 3G, network. Originally slated to be released in June, the device will most likely come out around August, sources say. The delay was first reported on Fortune Magazine's Web site.

RIM shares were recently down $5.40, or 4.4%, to $118.26.

An AT&T spokesman declined to comment.

A spokeswoman for RIM didn't provide any comment. The company, however, has never set an official launch date for the device, which goes by the name "Meteor."

The delay is the latest setback for RIM, which over the past several months suffered a string of service outages that left the company's 8 million North American Blackberry users without email access.

The delay has to do with testing of the device itself, sources say. Industry observers have speculated that AT&T was purposely holding off on the release date so that it wouldn't bump heads with the pending arrival of Apple's 3G iPhone, which is widely expected to be released in June. That is less likely a reason since the iPhone and Blackberry devices target different customers, although both are broadening their appeal.

RIM depends heavily on major wireless carriers such as AT&T, as RIM's top three carrier customers provide nearly half of the company's total revenue. The delay may affect sales figures for the company's fiscal second quarter, which ends Aug. 30. But some on Wall Street downplayed the impact.

"It's not a big deal," said Maynard Um, an analyst at UBS. He had predicted that RIM would delay its 3G Blackberry in a research note issued on April 1.

Sales from the 3G device were excluded from Um's estimates, and he said they were likely left out of most Wall Street analysts' forecasts.

While it is the first 3G device for AT&T, RIM has already released a 3G Blackberry running on a different kind of wireless technology for Verizon Wireless and Sprint Nextel Corp. (S). That is partly because the two carriers were ahead of AT&T in their 3G network deployments.

-By Roger Cheng, Dow Jones Newswires; 201-938-2020; roger.cheng@dowjones.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

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