Dual Mode Blackberry 8820 Smartphone Announced

Is this an iPhone for business?

The last question asked by shareholders at Research in Motion’s Annual Meeting last evening was how RIM executives viewed the Apple iPhone launch. Co-CEO Mike Lazaradis responded with the comment that they welcome the iPhone as it is accelerating customer awareness and heightening expectations for Smartphones. "Hats off to Mr. Jobs for growing the industry."

But this exchange followed Mike’s introduction of the Blackberry 8820 Smartphone which is certainly a candidate to be the business version of the iPhone:

  • Thinnest smartphone design, full QWERTY keyboard, 320 x 240 display, trackball navigation (as on Pearl, Curve and other 88xx devices)
  • Dual mode: GSM/EDGE and WiFi with UMA support for UMA based carriers

    • UMA = seamless handoff between WiFi and EDGE
    • WEP, WPA and WPA2 WiFi security
  • 64MB Flash embedded memory; expandable to 32GB via microSD memory cards

    • SD to 2GB, SDHC to 32GB (when available)
  • GPS with support for A-GPS interfaces
  • Voice-activated dialing, conference calling, speed dialing and call forwarding
  • Roxio Media Manager for Blackberry

    • Allows full management of media files via PC
  • Stereo audio output (supports Bluetooth stereo audio profile)
  • Video management with automatic video transcoding,

    • advanced conversion options and full screen mode.
  • Email support for up to 10 email accounts
  • 1400 mah battery

So why is this an "iPhone for business"? Combine the above features with the Blackberry’s business ecosystem:

  • Push email
  • Over 100,000 Blackberry Enterprise Server installations
  • Blackberry’s inherent full security:

    • only approved wireless device for secure government communications use in U.S., U.K., Canada, NATO, amongst others
  • Secure WiFi access to corporate networks via VPN’s.
  • Open development platforms (no hackers required)

    • over 500 third party business applications
    • several thousand personal applications
    • over 125,000 registered developer downloads of developer environment
  • New Blackberry Mobile Voice System allows single number access to any mobile or fixed device with simultaneous ring, seamless switching (based on technology acquired via Ascendent Systems acquisition)
  • Supported by 300 carriers in 140 countries
  • Focus on quality not only of hardware but also of user experience.

From the press release:

"The BlackBerry 8820 is an extraordinary business phone for people who really care about mobile communications and productivity. It features all the renowned power and usability of the BlackBerry platform with executive class styling and unprecedented connectivity features, including cellular, Wi-Fi and built-in GPS," said Mike Lazaridis, President and Co-CEO at RIM. "The BlackBerry 8820 complements our carrier partners’ cellular networks with the added ability to stay connected via Wi-Fi at home, through hotspots and corporate campuses."

And they summarized with what has been my experience:

  • Managed battery life for longer times between recharges

    • apparently they have experienced up to 5 hours talk time on a WiFi connection
  • Ease of use
  • It just works as expected of a phone: no frequent freezes and reboots!

Questions that remain:

  • Why does RIM (and Apple) appear to be holding back on 3G support? (UMTS was mentioned in the more general overview given by Mike) HSDPA is widespread in Europe and other countries; it is in a launch phase at AT&T in the U.S. and Rogers in Canada.
  • How does the Blackberry 8820 support YouTube video that normally looks for a Flash Player?
  • What are the carriers’ plans for supporting UMA?. (For instance, in Canada Rogers also participates in the Hotspots Canada service; will this be incorporated into Rogers launch of the 8820?)

According to the press release availability will initially be with AT&T in the U.S. in late August but I was told to expect it on Rogers for the Canadian market in the fall. Looking forward to trying the various Skype access services on it.

Tags: Blackberry 8820, iPhone, UMA, Dual Mode Wireless Phone, Mike Lazaradis

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About Jim Courtney

Bringing over thirty years' experience in the sales, marketing and management of cutting edge technology businesses.
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