RIM launches first BlackBerry flip phone

Wed Sep 10, 2008 12:05pm EDT
 
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By Wojtek Dabrowski

TORONTO (Reuters) - Research In Motion Ltd is launching a flip version of its popular BlackBerry Pearl smartphone, a move that reasserts its push into the retail consumer market.

Like RIM's original Pearl model, the first-ever flip BlackBerry comes loaded with multimedia features such as a video and music player and a 2-megapixel camera with flash, as well as a Web browser and an abridged keyboard.

"Seventy percent of the mobile phone users in the United States use a flip," RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie said in an interview. "There's never been a smartphone or a BlackBerry option for that."

He added the new device is "extremely important" to capturing more retail users.

The new clamshell flip BlackBerry will be available around the world starting this autumn. In the United States, T-Mobile will be the exclusive launch carrier. No pricing details were immediately available.

RIM's volatile shares jumped early on Wednesday, rising $3.37, or 3.4 percent, to $102.67 on the Nasdaq market. In Toronto, they rose C$4.20 to C$110.23.

The first, candy-bar-shaped version of the Pearl was launched in September 2006 to rave reviews and strong sales. Its success was a key factor behind the Waterloo, Ontario-based company's ability to deliver banner results throughout the rest of that year and in 2007.

The Pearl also allowed RIM to broaden its market beyond its mainstay of executives, lawyers, politicians and other professionals who use the BlackBerry to send work e-mail securely.   Continued...

 
<p>A BlackBerry Pearl smartphone is seen in an illustration released to Reuters by Brodeur Partners September 10, 2008. Research In Motion Ltd is launching a flip version of its popular BlackBerry Pearl smartphone, a move that reasserts its push into the retail consumer market. Like RIM's original Pearl model, the first-ever flip BlackBerry comes loaded with multimedia features such as a video and music player and a 2-megapixel camera with flash, as well as a Web browser and an abridged keyboard. REUTERS/Brodeur Partners/Handout</p>