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New 3G Blackberry Spotted

Dan Jones
LR Mobile News Analysis
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor
2/17/2006
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A new 3G Blackberry mobile email device designed to compete with feature-rich smartphones could be on the way soon from BlackBerry .

Some delegates got a sneak preview of the new Blackberry at the 3GSM mobile show in Barcelona this week.

The device is yet to be officially unveiled and wasn’t showcased at the Blackberry stand in the exhibition halls.

Jack Gold, analyst at J.Gold Associates, while stressing that he hasn't seen the final versions of these products yet, expects that the devices will be part of a new breed of smartphone-like devices designed for work and play.

"It's like a pseudo-Treo," says Gold, saying that RIM has been looking at adding features like a music player as well as updating the business applications on the device.

"They have to do this to stay competitive," opines Gold, adding that users want the fun features, while RIM-affiliated carriers want to be able to flog user ringtones and other multimedia content over their networks.

RIM itself hasn't so far made any official statements about a new device. "Please keep in mind that RIM does not usually provide information on products that have not been announced yet," a spokeswoman for the company told Unstrung.

For business use, the biggest benefit will probably be the ability to download large Powerpoint attachments in addition to regular emails. The device is said to have Powerpoint editing software, which will allow users to download a presentation, make changes, then forward it, all without a PC. That way, users could take short business trips without having to pack a laptop.

The UMTS version of the popular email handheld could appear in Europe in the second quarter. RIM already has a 3G CDMA device for the North American market. Any pricing discussion is speculative, but Gold estimates that the units would retail for $400. "That’s about where Treo is, which I would guess would be their primary competition until the new Microsoft-powered devices launch later this spring/summer," Gold adds.

Of course, new gizmos from RIM may not be top priority for some devoted Blackberry fans right now. The Canadian company's legal problems are still rumbling on, and the threat of the service being closed down is giving other vendors more leverage to push different operating systems and open-source email alternatives. (See Supreme Court Rejects RIM, RIM Trumpets Workaround, Email Gets Open-Source Push, and Microsoft Gets Pushy.)

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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