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RIM device development holds promise, analyst says

OTTAWA, Feb 3 (Reuters) - Research In Motion RIM.TORIMM.O is showing signs of progress in developing new Blackberry devices and features, and that could pay off for the company in the coming months, a TD Newcrest analyst said on Wednesday.

Industry checks provide encouraging feedback on the BlackBerry maker’s new 3G Pearl 9100, Tour2, WebKit browser and a hybrid keyboard-touch screen device, wrote analyst Chris Umiastowski.

“We are not changing any estimates at this time, but we believe there could be upside to our numbers for the May quarter,” he wrote in a note on Wednesday.

The analyst believes a new 3G Pearl 9100 will be “a big success, just like the last Pearl” based on feedback about such features as a high-quality screen and responsive optical trackpad. He does not expect a release until April.

RIM's WebKit browser is progressing well, the note said. "From what we've heard, RIM appears to be on track to close the gap with Apple AAPL.O, (Motorola's MOT.N) Android and Palm PALM.O on the browser experience," Umiastowski wrote.

RIM could also launch a hybrid device, with a clickable screen alongside a keyboard and an optical navigation pad, in the third quarter, he wrote.

The analyst believes an updated Tour2 is now in production and soon to be released to the market. Verizon is the key customer for this device, which will include Wi-Fi and replace a trackball with an optical trackpad, he wrote. (Reporting by Susan Taylor; Editing by Frank McGurty)