RIM is boosting its Blackberry range with a new 3G dual-mode handset aimed at both its core executive users and the wider consumer market.
Candy-bar shaped and with a full keyboard, the Blackberry Tour will launch with Verizon and Sprint in the US and Telus and BCE’s Bell unit in Canada.
Ever-mindful of the fact the line between corporate and pleasure smartphone use is blurring, RIM has pitched the Tour between the consumer-oriented BlackBerry Curve and the corporate-focused BlackBerry Bold.
The smartphone is intended as a "world phone" – providing voice and data services on networks outside a user’s home operator network – which has great appeal to business travellers.
For this reason it supports 3G EV-DO Rev. A networks in North America, as well as 3G UMTS/HSPA (2100Mhz) and quad-band EDGE/GPRS/GSM networks abroad.
For the consumer market, the Tour has all the multimedia features of the Curve, including a 3.2 megapixel photo and video camera with flash and media player.
The phone is also preloaded with DataViz Documents to Go, allowing users to edit Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files directly on the handset.
RIM has been left in the shadows recently – as Palm and Apple grab the spotlight with the launch of the Pre and the iPhone 3Gs.
It will be interesting to see how its latest Blackberry offering fares as its rivals continue to encroach on RIM’s traditional enterprise stronghold.
The BlackBerry Tour is expected to be available this summer. Pricing still to be announced.