blackberry-os-6-ultimate

RIM's new BlackBerry operating system offers a new web browser and more social media functions. ((Research In Motion))

Research In Motion offered a glimpse of its next-generation BlackBerry operating system at the company's annual showcase in Orlando, Fla., on Tuesday, an upgrade designed to compete with other popular smartphones like Apple's iPhone.

RIM co-CEO Mike Lazaridis introduced BlackBerry OS6, which promises crisper graphics, new multimedia applications, more social media functions and a revamped web browser, during his keynote address at the Wireless Enterprise Symposium.

The new operating system is scheduled to launch in the next calendar quarter.

The Waterloo, Ont.-based company looks to silence critics who say RIM has lagged behind other competitors, primarily Apple and Google, in developing a more user-friendly interface, better applications and smoother web browsing.

Both Apple's iPhone and Google's Android have gained significant ground over RIM in the global smartphone market.

According to Gartner, Inc., an international technology advisory company, the Android and iPhone increased their share of the global smartphone market from 2008 to 2009, by 3.5 and 6.2 percentage points respectively.

RIM, meanwhile, gained 3.3 percentage points, maintaining its position as the second-largest smartphone company in the world behind Nokia with 19.9 per cent of the overall market share in 2009.

The Apple iPhone's performance last year has placed it third overall with 14.4 per cent of the market share.

Nokia, with its Symbian operating system, remained the most popular smartphone manufacturer, selling about 47 per cent of the world's smartphones in 2009.

Energetic unveiling

RIM's improved BlackBerry operating system was unveiled in an energetic fashion.

The company played a stylish promotional video featuring hip-hop dancers dressed as business workers and high-school students using the OS6 interface to browse MP3 tunes, check emails, and scan Twitter feeds, while the Black Eyed Peas' song Boom Boom Pow thumped in the background.  

After the video finished, Black Eyed Peas member Will.i.am briefly appeared onstage with Lazaridis. Will.i.am has been invited to the conference as a guest panelist.

The WES conference ends Thursday.

RIM's stock closed at $72.59 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Tuesday, a decrease of 28 cents from Monday's close.

The company's stock was trading at $69.78 Monday morning before Lazaridis passed some details about OS6 to attendees of an investor conference.

On Monday, RIM unveiled two new smartphone models — a 3G version of its popular BlackBerry Pearl smartphone and a new Bold model that supports code division multiple access (CDMA) networks.