BlackBerry launches Pearl Flip phone
The long-rumored phone will be called the BlackBerry Pearl Flip, and will be available from T-Mobile USA and with overseas carriers later this year, at an undisclosed price.
The “flip” or “clamshell” design, where the display and keyboard are separated by a hinge, is a popular one for conventional cell phones, particularly in the US Jim Balsillie, co-chief executive of RIM, said 70 per cent of handsets in the country have this shape.
“Bringing this form factor to the smart phone category is, we think, very special,” Balsillie said.
“Smart” phones expand the features of a regular phone with applications like Web browsing and e-mail access, which is RIM’s forte.
RIM has done very well with the Pearl, which was its first entry into the consumer smart phone market. It turned the BlackBerry from an accessory for corporate e-mail slaves into a hot item for consumers who wanted a bit more from their phones.
Figures from research firm IDC showed that RIM nabbed 53.6 per cent of the US market for smart phones in the second quarter, though that figure was likely inflated because buyers looking at getting an iPhone from Apple Inc were holding off in the quarter, waiting for a new model to arrive.
In a research note, analyst Tavis McCourt at Morgan Keegan said it was particularly important for RIM to attract new customers by expanding its range of phone designs, or “form factors” in industry parlance. The company is widely expected to unveil a keypad-less touch-screen phone soon, to compete with the iPhone.
The Flip will complement T-Mobile USA’s relatively slow data network with Wi-Fi capability, and will even be able to place calls over Wi-Fi, which can alleviate problems with poor network coverage in homes and offices.