RIM Angles for Consumers With BlackBerry Curve

Research In Motion (RIM) has introduced a new model to its popular BlackBerry line — the third addition in less then a year.

The new mid-sized smartphone, dubbed “Curve,” is geared toward consumers who prefer a full keyboard for typing text rather than the abridged version on the popular Pearl.

AT&T will be the first carrier to offer the Curve. The companies have not revealed a launch date or pricing for the device, but rumors suggest it will sell for about US$200.

Multimedia Features

The new multimedia-packed Curve has RIM’s standard calling and wireless e-mail functions, plus a 2-megapixel camera with 5X zoom, built-in flash and a full-screen viewfinder.

Like other BlackBerry handsets, the Curve lets users watch videos and play music; it also comes with an advanced media manager program and a photo editor feature, according to RIM.

It has a front trackball below the screen for menu navigation — a feature that RIM introduced last year with the Pearl to replace its signature side wheel for thumbing through e-mail.

Shrinking Size, Expanding Features

Although smartphones keep getting smaller, their capabilities have been increasing. Smartphones have become must-have accessories for executives who are often on the road.

The phones generally have sizable screens for reading and sending e-mail, surfing the Web, and playing music. The slender devices are also easy to carry.

With one letter per key, the Curve is wider from side to side than the Pearl, but it is still small compared to many full-keyboard phones.

The device, weighing 3.9 ounces, is 4.2 inches deep by 2.4 inches wide by 0.6 inch thick, said RIM.

Not Just for Executives

While the BlackBerry has become a staple of business professionals, it is just now making its way to the mainstream audience.

There is growing demand for the latest BlackBerry models among casual users, said Michael Gartenberg, an analyst with JupiterResearch.

As advancing technology continues to drive down prices, mobile device manufacturers are jockeying for position in the fight to land nonbusiness users by offering more functionality.

“We are now starting to see crossover for these devices, which is where these companies really want to be,” Gartenberg told TechNewsWorld.”

In an effort to market smartphones as more than tools for enterprise customers, manufacturers are coming up with new designs and functionality geared toward mainstream consumers.

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