RIM won't do 'half-baked' dual-mode devices

Research In Motion says there won't be any Wi-Fi/GSM dual-mode BlackBerrys just yet, while BT insists the time is right for the technology to go mainstream
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Research In Motion (RIM) won't release a dual-mode phone while the technology is "half-baked", a senior representative said on Thursday.

The company's vice-president of commercial relations for Europe, Rick Constanzo, was speaking at the London launch of the BlackBerry 7130g, the most phone-like device yet released by RIM.

He confirmed that RIM was "taking a look" at dual-mode phones but said: "We won't launch something that's half-baked… It has got to be darn easy to use or it will fail."

Citing the ability to "hide complexity away from the end user" as a major factor in the BlackBerry's success, Constanzo suggested that dual-mode phones, which are intended to be able to switch seamlessly between Wi-Fi and GSM-based networks during calls, are not yet a suitably developed proposition.

Constanzo is not alone in suggesting that efficient dual-mode phones are some way off. Telecoms analyst Mark Newman recently indicated it may be two to four years before battery consumption issues are cleared up, for instance.

But BT, which will be releasing Wi-Fi-enabled dual-mode Fusion phones in the summer, denies the technology isn't ready.

"[Fusion] will become a far more mass-market product when it becomes Wi-Fi enabled," a BT spokesman said. "It's extremely easy to use — the technology does the work for you," he said, adding he did not think the battery life was any worse than on many other mobile devices.

"It was important to get it out there early and get it onto the market first, [although] being a world first, it can be difficult to market it to people, and explain why it's worth having," the BT spokesman said. He cited recent improvements in the battery life of iPods as an example of how "technology in this area will continue to improve the customer experience".

BT's current generation of Fusion phones use Bluetooth connectivity, rather than Wi-Fi.

Orange also intends to introduce Wi-Fi-enabled dual-mode phones later in the year, as part of the convergence strategy it announced last week.

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