RIM adds voice to BlackBerry

Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) has added voice capabilities to its RIM BlackBerry handheld device to create the Java-based BlackBerry 5810, which it is demonstrating at the Comdex Chicago trade show, the company announced Monday.

The PDA (personal digital assistant) is designed to work over GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Service) mobile networks with J2ME (Java 2 Platform, Micro Edition) as its core operating system, RIM said in a statement.

Along with voice, the BlackBerry 5810 includes “always on” e-mail, Web browser and SMS (Short Messaging Service) capabilities as well as organizer functions such as a calendar and address book that are used with a “thumb-typing” keyboard, RIM said.

The BlackBerry 5810 joins other combination mobile phone and PDA products on or coming to the market, such as the Handspring Treo from Handspring Inc. Also bound for the U.S. market is the HP Jornada 928 Wireless Digital Assistant (WDA) from Hewlett-Packard Co., the first branded Microsoft Corp. Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition device.

AT&T Wireless Services Inc. and the Deutsche Telekom AG (DT) subsidiary VoiceStream Wireless Corp. have begun accepting orders for the BlackBerry 5810 in the U.S. and will begin shipping the BlackBerry 5810 by the end of March, RIM said.

In Canada, RIM has a similar deal with Rogers AT&T Wireless, though a release date has yet to be announced.

In Europe, mobile-phone operator mmO2 PLC will sell a version of the BlackBerry 5810, though it is not expected to hit the market until the end of the third or fourth quarter, according to mmO2 spokesman Simon Gordon.

MmO2 has no plans to demonstrate the BlackBerry 5810 at the CeBIT trade show in Hanover, Germany, this month, though it will be showing branded versions of the Handspring Treo and the XDA, mmO2’s version of the Microsoft Pocket PC 2002 Phone Edition, Gordon said.

In other announcements at Comdex Chicago, RIM said it has extended its partnership with IBM Corp. to offer RIM’s GSM/GPRS products through IBM Global Services. IBM will be the first IT services provider to offer BlackBerry 5810 handhelds to its enterprise customers as part of its business consulting and systems integration services package, the company said.

RIM also announced that it intends to introduce its BlackBerry Web Client in the second quarter. This is a Web-based application that will support POP3 (Post Office Protocol), IMAP (Internet Message Access Protocol) and ISP’s (Internet Service Providers) e-mail protocols and allow users to access multiple existing email accounts from the device.

Ottawa-based Cognos Inc. said last week that it will formally announce a partnership with RIM at Comdex Chicago to bring Cognos’ new alert and notification system, NoticeCast, to the Blackberry device for email alerts.

RIM is online at http://www.rim.net. VoiceStream, in Bellevue, Wash., is at http://www.voicestream.com/.