Blackberry aims to bite into Apple's juicy iPhone

Research in Motion unveiled Monday its latest BlackBerry smartphone with new styling and technology that aims to bite into Apple's juicy iPhone sales.

Called the "BlackBerry Bold," it is the first in the handset series to run on high-speed HSDPA networks and comes with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a "rich set of multimedia features," the Canadian-based firm said.As such, users can faster download email attachments, stream video or render web pages. As well, its added processing power allows the BlackBerry Bold to run more sophisticated business software, said RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario.

This combination of guts and glitz, with its "vivid and bold" display, "lustrous black exterior, satin chrome finished frame and stylish leather-like back-plate," appears to be a nod to its mostly business users and wooing the personal users of its rival, iPhone.

In the United States, BlackBerry mobile devices, which combine telephone, email and Internet capabilities, have long been strongest among business users.

Reliance on the BlackBerry is so fierce that they have been jokingly dubbed "CrackBerries," in a reference to a tendency for their owners to compulsively check and send email as if it were an addiction.But iPhone quickly picked up the lion's share of the US personal use market since its launch in 2007, and by taking steps recently to try to appeal to business users too, it has become the biggest threat to BlackBerry's dominance.

"The new BlackBerry Bold represents a tremendous step forward in business-grade smartphones and lives up to its name with incredible speed, power and functionality, all wrapped in a beautiful and confident design," said RIM president Mike Lazaridis in a statement.

The new BlackBerry smartphone, which will also allow users that manage their music collection with iTunes to sync with it, will be offered worldwide in the coming months, the company said.

Some 14 million people around the world use RIM's BlackBerry and the company has said it aims to sign up another 2.2 million by the end of the next quarter.

Also Monday, RIM, the Royal Bank, Thomson Reuters and several private Canadian investors announced the launch of a 150 million dollar (Canadian, US) venture capital fund that will invest in new mobile applications and services.


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