A week after Apple sucked all the oxygen from CES with its iPhone,
Research in Motion (RIM)
unveiled a white version of
its Pearl BlackBerry, complete with lower price.
Along with a white or black exterior, the new Pearl sports a deeper
discount: $150 compared to $199 when it launched in September.
The Pearl was the first phone from RIM to offer subscribers a camera phone,
MP3 player and more. The phone also provides an updated keyboard for text
messages or e-mail.
A new shade of Pearl.
“The only way you can react in the short term is price — and that’s
what they’ve done,” In-Stat analyst Bill Hughes said, adding that the
iPhone’s announced $300 to $500 price-tag can’t be sustained.
Subscribers pay $19.99 per month for unlimited personal e-mail and Web
browsing. T-Mobile sold a half million handsets when the carrier first
exclusively offered the RIM device.
Cingular, the carrier with the sole iPhone distributorship, also sells the
BlackBerry Pearl. In December,
Cingular said the Pearl would use its Push to Talk network, GPS navigation
and high-speed EDGE network.
RIM faces greater competition from Motorola,
which has taken an “aggressive stance” in pricing. Cingular’s
BlackJack is also targeting the BlackBerry.
The Pearl outpaced Motorola’s Moto Q
phone, offered by Verizon
and Sprint Nextel
Verizon last year introduced its Chocolate device, a portable digital music player with a phone added almost as an afterthought.
Analysts said the updated Pearl’s appearance right after the iPhone’s
unveiling was only coincidental.
“It takes months
to prepare different colors,” Current Analysis handset analyst Avi
Greengart told internetnews.com.
And the price drop is a necessity for RIM to start to fuel wider
adoption, added Gartner Research analyst Ken Dulaney said. The
Pearl and iPhone are in very different markets. “RIM is about e-mail and messaging. Apple is about media with a phone.”
RIM is trying to broaden the definition of the enterprise market. While consumers are buying the Pearl, the BlackBerry retains its enterprise roots, including trackball navigation, voice optimization and security.
What should be RIM’s next move? “They need a pink Pearl,” said Greengart.