Consumer BlackBerry by Christmas: RIM

Research In Motion is eyeing a pre-Christmas date for the local launchof the BlackBerry Pearl, its first shift away from the enterprisemarket into the broader personal digital assistant (PDA) and smartphonespace.Daniel Hicks, carrier relationship and sales manager forRIM Australia, said that while no dates had been finalised, the companywas keen to launch the device, which incorporates a 1.

Research In Motion is eyeing a pre-Christmas date for the local launch of the BlackBerry Pearl, its first shift away from the enterprise market into the broader personal digital assistant (PDA) and smartphone space.

Daniel Hicks, carrier relationship and sales manager for RIM Australia, said that while no dates had been finalised, the company was keen to launch the device, which incorporates a 1.3 megapixel digital camera, music playback and memory card slot, into the local market.

"We are in discussion with several carriers and we are looking at a pre-Christmas launch in the Asia-Pacific region," he said during a presentation at the Influence 2006 Forum in the Hunter Valley. The device goes on sale in US markets soon. Locally, RIM has launched BlackBerry models in conjunction with Optus, Telstra and Vodafone.

Within the enterprise market, RIM wants to change the perception that its devices are primarily useful for push email, Hicks said.

One step in that plan will be the release of devices that don't include an email client, but allow access to other BlackBerry-enabled business applications such as customer relationship management or sales tracking.

Adding extra features may also allow RIM to remain competitive with rival devices running the Windows Mobile or Symbian operating system, many of which have long sported similar multimedia extensions.

Whether business customers are clamouring for such features or are quite content with simple email access remains to be seen. According to Gartner, BlackBerry is the top-ranked PDA brand in the world, accounting for over 21 percent of global sales in 2005.