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RIM: Over 50 carriers testing BlackBerry 10 now

The company reiterates that it's on track for the launch of its BlackBerry 10 phones in the first quarter.

Lynn La/CNET

Research In Motion said today that more than 50 carriers are testing its BlackBerry 10 platform, a critical step to getting its next-generation smartphones in the market next year.

RIM reiterated the company's target of releasing its two BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the first quarter of next year.

Carriers need to test the platform and RIM's products before certifying it for use on their networks, a process known as "Lab Entry." The process, which could take anywhere from a week to several weeks and varies depending on carrier partner, is mandatory for any mobile operating system, smartphone, or other wireless equipment looking to jump on a network.

RIM is sitting out the holiday smartphone war and hoping that it will get the spotlight to itself when it launches its BlackBerry 10 smartphones next year. But critics worry that the company is continuing to lose market share in its home market of North America, even as it expands in emerging markets. BlackBerry 10 is seen as the company's last chance to avoid succumbing to the pressures of the competitive smartphone market.

RIM CEO Thorsten Heins has spent the last several weeks on a road trip visiting carriers around the world in an attempt to drum up excitement for its new platform.

Given the dominance of Apple's iOS and Google's Android platforms, the carriers are looking for a third option to lessen their reliance on the two technology giants. For now, the carriers are looking to push phones using Microsoft's Windows Phone operating system, but RIM could get its shot if Microsoft stumbles.

"They are excited about the prospect of launching BlackBerry 10 in their markets," Heins said in a statement sent to CNET.

I'm very pleased to confirm that we have passed a critical milestone in the development of our brand new mobile computing platform, BlackBerry 10. In the last week, BlackBerry 10 achieved Lab Entry with more than 50 carriers -- a key step in our preparedness for the launch of BlackBerry 10 in the first quarter of 2013. We made this commitment during our recent results conference call and we have delivered. This process will continue in the coming months as more carriers around the world formally evaluate the devices and our brand new software.

I have spent the last several weeks on the road visiting with carrier partners around the world to show them the BlackBerry 10 platform and to share with them our plans for launch. Their response has been tremendous. They are excited about the prospect of launching BlackBerry 10 in their markets. Our respective teams are now engaged on the technical and commercial preparation of the launch of BlackBerry 10 and the lab entry is an important milestone in that context.

The hard work will not stop here as we build towards launch. Our developer teams are continuing to generate momentum to bring a wealth of applications to BlackBerry 10, our enterprise teams have started to present BlackBerry 10 devices and services to our business customers, and our engineers are fully mobilized to ensure that BlackBerry 10 launches flawlessly in the first quarter of 2013.