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America the Bold?

The U.S. is lagging behind Canada and now the UK in the wait for the first 3G smartphone from cult wireless email vendor, BlackBerry .

RIM announced the much-anticipated Bold, which uses high-speed downlink packet access (HSDPA) wireless technology to get downloads at around 1 Mbit/s, this spring but didn't set a release date for U.S. (See RIM Unveils 3G Device, VC Fund.)

The Bold was launched in Canada earlier this month and is now available in merry olde England through Vodafone Group plc (NYSE: VOD). (See RIM Unveils 3G Device, VC Fund and Vodafone UK, RIM Intro Bold.)

There's still no official word on when the device might make it stateside, however. "The Bold is currently undergoing certification with AT&T," a RIM spokesperson writes. "We’ll keep you posted on launch date timing."

For its part,AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), is being coy too. "We aren’t commenting on when we will launch the Bold," says AT&T spokesman Mark Seigel in an email.

Nonetheless, AR Communications Inc. analyst Carmi Levy, who suggested in July that Canada would be first to get the Bold, suggests that October will be bold and beautiful for RIM and AT&T. "October 2nd is looking firmer and firmer," he tells Unstrung.

This will give AT&T more time to iron out some of the 3G coverage kinks that have bugged 3G iPhone users recently, according to Levy. "Lessons learned here will hopefully bode well for the Bold, which will rely on the same 3G network. Unlike the iPhone, BlackBerry customers are far less forgiving of network reception and reliability issues, so AT&T's go-slow strategy is a wise one." (See 3G iPhone Connection Complaints Arise.)

The Bold's debut could be followed by up to three other major releases from RIM before the end of the year. Anticipated gizmos include the firm's first touch-screen smartphone and a flip-phone for the smart young set.

— Dan Jones, Site Editor, Unstrung

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