Research In Motion (RIM) is taking on mobile phone manufacturers by launching a voice-enabled version of its BlackBerry email device.
The Ontario-based RIM said its BlackBerry 5810, which will be available within 30 days on five North American networks, combines the BlackBerry email device with a wireless telephone.
RIM president Mike Lazaridis, co-chief executive, said the device looked the same as the ordinary Blackberry.
"The only difference is it has an earbud at the top and a little place you can put the GSM SIM card," said Lazaridis.
BlackBerry, without the voice feature, has been one of the few technology success stories in recent months. It is deployed by about 6,500 corporations and allows users to receive, manage and respond to email.
The new product is indicative of a general trend towards convergence of handheld devices.
Handspring's Treo, a pocket-sized organiser and mobile phone, is expected to be on retailers' shelves this month.
But RIM doesn't believe its devices compete directly with the Treo, which is not a business device.
The new BlackBerry will operate on GSM networks and Rogers Wireless, as well as Voicestream, Cingular and AT&T Wireless in the United States. However, it is unlikely that devices sold in the UK by mmO2 will have the voice facility enabled.
The new BlackBerry is expected to cost in the region of $499, plus monthly network fees of about $40 depending on usage.
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