Monday, September 29, 2008

Flip phone BlackBerry coming soon

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is moving to increase its fast-growing share of the US market with its first flip phone, the most popular format in North America.

RIM unveiled a flip version of its Pearl BlackBerry that will be available this fall, initially only through T-Mobile USA. The move adds to RIM's tactics to extend its reach beyond its core of business users to the fashion-conscious consumer market.

BlackBerry devices have nearly doubled their share of the global market for do-it-all phones known as smart phones during the past year, even as economic woes have given cellphone users pause before upgrading to more expensive devices. RIM's sales more than doubled to 5.6 million units in the second quarter, according to the research firm Gartner Inc., as RIM added carriers and signed distribution agreements around the world.

While Apple's iPhone has made a big splash, BlackBerry has quietly become common in the US, in part because of heavy TV advertising to promote its brand among consumers seeking to check email on their cellphones. BlackBerry devices make up 1 in 10 phones sold in the US.

The Pearl Flip, which features a chrome-finished frame and weighs 3.6 ounces, features a high-resolution display on the outside, so users can preview incoming calls, mail and text without opening the phone. A larger display on the inside lets users browse the Web, watch videos and read email.

Flip-phone keyboards are commonly small and harder to type on, but the new phone has a "Qwerty" keyboard like a computer. Like other BlackBerry devices available in the US, the Pearl Flip isn't designed to work on the fastest 3G networks. Pricing has not been announced yet. (info from The Wall Street Journal)

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