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Can a shiny new smartphone undo years of lackluster performance?

BlackBerry is sure hoping so.

In recent years, BlackBerry has lost a lot of customers and slashed a lot of jobs, including positions at its U.S. headquarters based in Irving.

A spokesman told WFAA.com that the company hadn t listened to the market and what people were telling us they want out of smartphones."

But on Wednesday, BlackBerry got "smart."

Calling it "the start of a new era of mobile computing, CEO Thorsten Heins officially unveiled a new smartphone the company hopes can compete with the likes of the iPhone and Android handsets.

It's quite a lot like an iPhone, except with a larger screen and it's very fast," said industry analyst Peter Misek with Jefferies and Co.

BlackBerry could use more beneficial reviews like that one. The success of its new Z10 model is deemed critical to the troubled company's future.

It's equally important to the city of Irving, where BlackBerry is a Top 50 employer, providing around 500 jobs mainly higher wage positions in research and development and legal services.

The company which officially changed its name Wednesday from Research in Motion to BlackBerry also directly contributes about $700,000 annually to the city and school district tax base.

Following the BlackBerry Z10 unveiling, there was a much less flashy announcement. A spokesman from the Irving Chamber of Commerce told WFAA.com by phone that BlackBerry has indicated it may expand its North Texas workforce by as much as 10 percent, another 50 jobs.

A spokesman from BlackBerry, which just added some local positions in December 2012, wouldn t confirm the company s future hiring plans.

E-mail jwheeler@wfaa.com

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