RIM shows off new phones but fails to show signs of innovation
Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled two new handsets on April 26, a day before the company's Wireless Enterprise Symposium (WES 2010), but failed to delight those hoping for (the much-rumored) completely redesigned BlackBerry smartphones.
Leaked images of a BlackBerry clamshell device running the (also leaked) BlackBerry 6.0 operating software turned up on technology blog Boy Genius Report earlier in the week, causing people to speculate about the new form-factors the company had been designing.
Instead of brand new devices, RIM showcased updated versions of its Pearl and Bold handsets - the new BlackBerry Pearl 3G (9100 and 9105 models) and BlackBerry Bold 9650 devices. The new handsets offer additional features and have been tweaked to accommodate media and internet-hungry consumers.
BlackBerry has made an interesting move with its Pearl 3G 9105, regressing from RIM's 20-key SureType keyboard (a keyboard that fuses a condensed QWERTY layout with the old-style T9 entry keyboard) to the traditional 14-key alphanumeric entry keypad.
Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO, Research In Motion explained the decision saying, "Considering the fast-growing consumer interest in smartphones and the fact that more than three-quarters of the people in the global mobile phone market are still buying handsets with a traditional alphanumeric keypad, we think the new BlackBerry Pearl 3G addresses a substantial market opportunity. It allows consumers to upgrade their traditional mobile phone to a full-featured, easy-to-use and fashionable 3G BlackBerry smartphone that supports BlackBerry Messenger and many other apps while maintaining a handset design and layout that is familiar and comfortable."
RIM is also trying to tempt first-time BlackBerry consumers with the Pearl 3G's smaller design. At 108 mm x 50 mm x 13.3 mm it is the smallest BlackBerry handset to have ever been released.
The BlackBerry Pearl 3G has an optical trackpad; a 624 Mhz processor; dedicated media keys for the video, picture and music media player; a 3.2 MP camera with zoom, autofocus, flash and video recording; built-in GPS; support for up to 32 GB memory cards; and is (strangely) the first BlackBerry to support 802.11n WiFi.
The BlackBerry Bold 9650 is a smartphone for consumers on the CDMA network. The device comes with a full QWERTY keyboard, optical trackpad, built-in WiFi (with the ability to browse the web, send text or emails while you are talking on the phone), support for up to 32 GB memory cards, and of course the advanced email and messaging features you would expect from a BlackBerry handset.
The Bold 9650 will be available in the US from May 23 for $199.99 on a two-year service agreement, after a $100 mail-in rebate. The BlackBerry Pearl 3G will also be available in May, however no details about pricing have been announced.
BlackBerry fans are standing by for additional announcements due to take place at RIM's annual WES event. Around 5,000 people are expected to gather from more than 100 countries to talk about the BlackBerry "mobile solution" and how it can be improved.
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