RIM's BlackBerry Bold aims at business users

Mon May 12, 2008 2:39pm EDT
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd is launching a new high-end version of the BlackBerry aimed at its core base of business users, but it hopes the sleek new smartphone will also catch on with the broader retail market.

Shares of RIM jumped on Monday, climbing C$8.76, or 6.6 percent, to C$142.11 on the Toronto Stock Exchange. On Nasdaq, the stock was up $8.84, or 6.7 percent, at $141.61.

The BlackBerry Bold, as the new smartphone is called, is the first BlackBerry to support high-speed HSDPA cellular networks and comes with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia features.

"It's really a step up in function in many core aspects of the system," RIM Co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in an interview.

The smartphone rolls out globally this summer and will cost between $300 and $400, he said. AT&T will be its lead carrier in the United States.

Citi Investment Research analyst Jim Suva wrote in a note to clients that the timing of the launch of the third-generation smartphone was ahead of his expectations. Third generation, or 3G, essentially refers to advanced and high-speed wireless services.

"We had expected a 3G device later this year," he wrote. "We estimate the Bold could increase RIM's quarterly shipments by 200,000 to 400,000."

While Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM hopes the Bold will entice corporate users to upgrade the handsets they currently use, Balsillie said he "wouldn't be surprised if it gets picked up by the consumer."   Continued...

<p>The BlackBerry Bold is seen in a handout photo. REUTERS/RIM/Handout</p>