Rogers Readies RIM 3G BlackBerry Bold Canadian Debut

As RIM nears the U.S. debut of the first BlackBerry to run on 3G networks, the company plans an Aug. 21 introduction in Canada. While solidly holding on to its traditional business market share, RIM hopes to slice into Apple's iPhone 3G sales by offering the new BlackBerry Bold with a set of consumer-oriented features including a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capability, a music player, GPS and Wi-Fi.

Rogers Communications plans to introduce the new 3G BlackBerry Bold Aug. 21 in Canada. Already the dominant maker of smart phones for the enterprise, Research in Motion has loaded the new BlackBerry with a number of consumer attractions, including a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capability, a music player, GPS and Wi-Fi.

Pricing for the first BlackBerry to run on high-speed HSDPA (High-Speed Downlink Packet Access) cellular networks was not announced, but the site cited advertising from Rogers on Aug. 15 that the smart phone will cost $400 with a three-year contract. By contrast, the price of the new 3G iPhone was cut as low as $199 with a subsidized service plan from AT&T, the exclusive U.S. carrier. A 16GB version of the iPhone sells for $299.

RIM has already rolled out the much-anticipated device in Germany, Austria and India. The U.S. debut is expected in a few weeks.

"The BlackBerry Bold is a breakthrough smart phone for both professional and personal use," Don Morrison, RIM's chief operating officer, said in an Aug. 11 statement. Added RIM Vice President of Corporate Marketing Mark Guibert, "The BlackBerry Bold smart phone delivers an amazing combination of functionality, performance, usability and design, making it an ideal choice for business professionals and power users."

The new BlackBerrys do not incorporate the iPhone's touch-screen keyboard, instead opting for a Chiclet-type QWERTY keyboard combined with a half-VGA LCD display (480-by-320 resolution at 217 ppi). In addition to supporting triband HSDPA, the device also runs on enterprise-grade Wi-Fi (802.11 a/b/g) networks. The device also includes 1GB of internal storage memory and a MicroSD/SDHC expansion memory slot.

RIM also announced a deal with Microsoft in May to offer Windows Live Hotmail and Messenger on all BlackBerry smart phones, edging RIM even closer to the consumer market. Messenger users will be offered a full range of peer-to-peer messaging, including the ability to save messages, customize status messages, use avatars and use more than 60 emoticons.

RIM and Apple are eyeing each other's handsome market share, but Tony Rizzo, an analyst with The 451 Group, said in May that RIM can expect more success in the consumer market than Apple can in the enterprise space.