BlackBerry Firm Takes On Phone Rivals

Dennis Faas's picture

Research In Motion (RIM), creators of the popular BlackBerry mobile device, are launching a more direct challenge to cell phone producers. The firm's newest model includes a flip-down keyboard, making it the first BlackBerry in the traditional phone shape.

Previously, the BlackBerry had been available only as a flat-one piece device. Marketed primarily as a way to access emails wirelessly, its telephone functions had been seen as of secondary importance. For this reason it's generally been viewed as a business tool rather than a consumer device.

The new BlackBerry Pearl is the first flip-down, or 'clamshell', model in the range and is aimed at ordinary phone users who want more features in their handsets. It includes a satellite navigation system, a 2 megapixel camera and space for a 16GB memory card. (Source:

The phone's success depends on several factors, most notably whether consumers see it as good value. Emails aside, it isn't a particularly spectacular phone by modern standards, so it will need to be competitively priced. The model will be exclusive to T-Mobile, but pricing isn't yet confirmed.

The other big question is how much casual users are attracted by the email functions. There are some neat features, such as a display on the outside of the phone so that you can see who has sent an email without having to open it up. However, while the device has a keyboard laid out in the standard 'QWERTY' format, unlike most mobile phones, it's yet to be seen how easy it is to type on what appears to be a notably smaller keyboard than on the traditional BlackBerry. Indeed, RIM actually advises users to type using their thumbs, which many will find less than intuitive. (Source:

The Pearl isn't compatible with 3G networks, which is somewhat surprising given that its release appears to be partially motivated by the sales success of the new model iPhones (albeit with some technical glitches).

Rate this article: 
No votes yet