RIM moves to fight the iPhone's dominance in the field of Wi-Fi-enabled devices with its BlackBerry 8820.
Although just released in July, the iPhone is already the countrys leading Wi-Fi-enabled device, according to analyst firm M:Metrics. Out of 1.9 million U.S. mobile devices with Wi-Fi, M:Metrics numbers show the 8GB iPhone at the top of the list with 287,198 users.
That the wild consumer popularity of Apples iPhone has quickly brought it to the head of the Wi-Fi pack is hardly surprising, but enterprises are also embracing Wi-Fi and Research In Motions new BlackBerry 8820, which is designed to capitalize on that trend.
Close behind the iPhone in M:Metrics rankings is the enterprise-friendly Cingular 8125 Pocket PC, with 240,865 users.
"Adding Wi-Fi to a RIM device makes a lot of sense," Mark Donovan, a senior research analyst at M:Metrics, told eWEEK Oct. 3. "Were certainly seeing Wi-Fi break out on the high end [of smart phones]. Its another arrow in the quiver."
Click here to read an eWEEK Labs review of the BlackBerry 8820.
With Wi-Fi capability, BlackBerry 8820 users on the AT&T network are able to link with their companies wireless campus networks or access e-mail and browse the Web at Wi-Fi hot spots even in the few countries in which AT&T does not have data roaming agreements.
Along with Wi-Fi, the BlackBerry 8820 includes built-in GPS through TeleNav, push-to-talk technology and the core RIM infrastructure of e-mail and call management. "It will make a road warrior very, very happy," Donovan said.
The device provides support for 802.11a, b and g, with enterprise security features, extending the BlackBerry platform to business customers at public hot spots and on wireless LANs, as well as through home Wi-Fi networks.
That AT&T is the carrier for both the iPhone and the BlackBerry 8820 is hardly surprising, analysts said.
"They are just segmenting their market," Donovan said. "The iPhone has a clear focus on consumer interests, but the locked-down devices are not going to see much interest from enterprises."
AT&T claims the quadband BlackBerry will allow users to wirelessly connect in at least 135 countries, more than is offered by any other U.S. carrier. Customers can also use the BlackBerry 8820 to make or receive wireless phone calls in more than 190 countries.
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