RealTime IT News

New BlackBerry Sports Verizon Broadband

It's a phone, it's a PDA, no wait, it's also a high-speed modem.

The latest BlackBerry handset released this week is all of the above, thanks to an agreement between Research In Motion (RIM) and Verizon Wireless . RIM's BlackBerry 7130e is the company's first handset to use Verizon's BroadBand Access service, which is based on the carrier's Evolution-Data Optimized (EV-DO) network.

The 7130e can also be used as a high-speed modem to connect the device to a notebook computer and tap into the BroadBand Access service. Verizon says it offers average connection speeds of 400 to 700 kbps, with coverage of some 140 million Americans in 171 metropolitan areas.

BlackBerry 7130e
Source: Blackberry

In addition to advanced phone functionality, the 7130e has the same features as the popular BlackBerry handheld, including support for "push-based" wireless e-mail, Web browsing, text messaging, personal organizer and other corporate data applications.

"BroadbandAccess Connect on the new BlackBerry 7130e introduces another option for customers who view office mobility and speed as a competitive advantage in their business," Bill Stone, vice-president of marketing for Verizon Wireless, said in a statement.

The 7130e handset features a bright, high-resolution LCD screen that RIM says has been optimized for indoor and outdoor viewing, Bluetooth support, 64MB of flash memory, and dedicated "send" and "end" phone keys. Also included is RIM's SureType keyboard technology, which effectively combines a phone keypad and a QWERTY keyboard to fit within the size of a traditional wireless phone form factor.

Meanwhile, users of BlackBerry competitor Palm's Treo device now also have access to push e-mail services. Everyone.net announced EmailTreo this week. EmailTreo is a service that gives Treo users instant access to their e-mail and lets them remain continuously synchronized with their Web mail and Outlook e-mail clients.

San Jose, Calif.-based Everyone.net is a hosted e-mail services provider with more than a million paid mailboxes. Designed for individuals and small businesses, Everyone.net says an EmailTreo account can be set up in as little as a minute's time, without software plug-ins.

An EmailTreo account is configured directly from the Treo handset and is provided free for six months, and for $1.75 per month thereafter.

"Real-time e-mail on the Treo is no longer limited to companies with IT staffs or extensive budgets," said Josh Mailman vice president of marketing at Everyone.net, in a statement.

"With an EmailTreo account, users get an extremely powerful push e-mail solution at a monthly cost that's less than a cup of coffee," Mailman said. "Users will always be up to date with their messages because e-mails will appear on their Treo devices the same way they do on their desktop: instantly and automatically."

Along with competitive pressures, RIM is fighting off patent infringement claims by NTP that could effectively force it to curtail its wireless e-mail service in the United States, which is by far the Canadian company's biggest market.

But London-based Visiongain said in a report last month that the BlackBerry handheld "remains the device to beat," despite its current legal difficulties.

"Beginning with a prescient logic that defined an enterprise need before it materialized, RIM has successfully and consistently adapted both hardware and software ahead of market-shaping forces," said Visiongain report author Pam Duffey in a statement. "We think there are new uses for BlackBerry in customized -- and converged -- applications."

Visiongain says that after several years of false hope, wireless email is finally set for more significant market traction, and its potential remains largely untapped, bringing new RIM competitors to the fore.