RealTime IT News

BlackBerry Goes Bold for Market Gold

RIM BlackBerry Bold
Source: Research In Motion

Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) today debuted its newest BlackBerry, the Bold, offering what the Ottawa-based vendor claims is greater performance and functionality thanks to high-speed network capabilities and a heftier processor component.

Sleek, shiny and sharp in design, the 3G smartphone features a newly designed full QWERTY keyboard, integrated GPS and 802.11 Wi-Fi. In addition, the unit has a 624MHz mobile processor for faster document downloading and support for triband HSDPA networks.

The new smartphone is clearly RIM's latest joust to keep its leadership grip on the market. The vendor is facing increasing competition from Apple's iPhone. Apple is rumored to be launching a 3G device later this year as well.

Enhanced 3G networking not only boosts device performance but also expands smartphone application functionality as more power allows for deeper software capabilities such as customer relationship management, or CRM . .

Just a week ago SAP announced it was natively integrating its CRM application into the BlackBerry.

Today Microsoft jumped on the bandwagon as well. Microsoft Windows Live services are now available on RIM's device, providing users mobile access to Windows Live Messenger and Windows Live Hotmail.

"This is as significant an announcement we've seen from RIM within last two years," Carmi Levy, senior vice president of strategic consulting, AR Communications, told InternetNews.com.

While the 3G devices will ignite "faster, new value-added services," enterprises face having to replace today's smartphones, revamp device support programs and plan new training for users.

"The difference between today's 2G devices and 3G is night and day, but it also means IT has to do some work," Levy said. "It's going to pose a significant change for IT," he added.

But the change doesn't have to happen overnight as Levy recommends outlining a basic strategy for 3G device use at this point.

"Like with anything technical, it's counterproductive to chase the device. A mobile strategy has to go far beyond just moving to another provider," he explained. "The news presents the opportunity to start a conversation with the carrier about what the device means to infrastructure changes."

AT&T (NASDAQ:T) is the first carrier announced, though it's doubtful given RIM's traditional multicarrier strategy it will be exclusive as it is for Apple's iPhone. Yet the carrier did have a deal in the U.S. for a period of time to be the sole carrier of the BlackBerry Curve.

According to John Kampfe, AT&T's director of media and industry analyst relations, AT&T will be the only U.S. carrier to offer a BlackBerry that has international 3G capabilities and give customers the ability to use their BlackBerry in countries such as Japan and South Korea.

"We expect to have nearly 350 leading U.S. markets online by the end of 2008, including all of the top 100 U.S. cities," Kampfe told InternetNews.com

That bodes well for the carrier's marketshare plans. AT&T has stated publicly in the past that it has more than 10 million enterprise customers.

While housing all the traditional productivity features, the BlackBerry Bold lets users talk while simultaneously sending and receiving e-mail or while browsing online. User can download today's supported files and edit directly using preloaded DataViz Documents to Go.

One aspect that will likely catch users' attention is the enhanced display -- which is twice the resolution of the Curve. The half-VGA color LCD is "fused" to the undersurface of the device lens, which RIM says, improves definition and clarity. The mini trackball now mimics the traditional PC mouse, improving navigation.

The Bold also illustrates RIM's clear intentions to grab more consumer market share. A recent study noted that iPhone lovers are more focused on audio and ease of use.

The Bold offers 128MB of flash memory, 1GB onboard storage memory and a memory card slot on the side door. The unit also has a 2-megapixel camera with video recording capability, built-in flash and a 5x digital zoom. Dual speakers enhance the BlackBerry's audio, and when users plug in wired headphones or external speakers, an equalizer with 11 preset filters provides greater acoustic precision.

The new acoustic design goes beyond boosting listening and sound quality. The unit also includes a Speaker Independent Voice Recognition feature for voice-activated dialing, Bluetooth 2.0, and a quad-band EDGE and triband HSDPA handset that supports global roaming and features.

Plus, the Bold has dedicated send, end and mute keys, as well as smart dialing, speed dialing, conference calling and call forwarding.

When accessing wireless networks, users can access a new Push Button Setup feature that speeds up sign-on. The GPS function lets users pinpoint exact location while on a call.

According to Levy, given the Bold's expanded features and enhancements, the next several months will be full of news about new applications. "Once it hits its stride, this device will rewrite how we use mobile infrastructure," he said.