RIM introduces global BlackBerry devices

In an effort to widen its appeal with mobile professionals, Waterloo, Ont.-based Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) introduced on Wednesday two new BlackBerry wireless handhelds that can operate overseas.

The 6710 model is a world-band handheld that operates on global system for mobile communications (GSM)/general packet radio service (GPRS) networks allowing it to function in Europe, Asia, as well as North America. The 6720 model is a dual-band handheld also operating on GSM/GPRS networks for use strictly in Europe and Asia.

“We continue to evolve our wireless handhelds and the BlackBerry platform to complement the increasing power of new 2.5G wireless networks worldwide,” said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO at RIM, in a prepared statement.

Alex Slawsby, Framingham, Mass.-based research analyst with International Data Corp. called RIM’s release a “natural and strong evolution of the BlackBerry line.”

The two J2ME-based handhelds, which are data and voice-enabled with an integrated speaker/microphone, feature a phone, e-mail, short message service (SMS), and organizer applications.

Mobile professionals can read, compose, reply, file, or delete messages using either handheld model. A user’s e-mail inbox can also be synchronized with his or her PC.

The BlackBerry browser can be used to access a carrier’s content services and gateways. For enterprises that deploy BlackBerry Enterprise Server v3.5, the browser can give the user access to corporate data securely through the new Mobile Data Service feature of the server. The browser supports standard WML-, HTML-, and XML- based content and HTTP/HTTPS connectivity to enterprise server.

IDC’s Slawsby said the latest RIM offering will “address the desires and needs of the traditional BlackBerry customer and will also make some progress of expanding appeal of RIM products to people who travel overseas.”

Though RIM has some very good technology, Slawsby said the company needs to move away from its hardware sales focus and look to licence its technology in order to compete with other players in the market.

“They’re (RIM) not going to open up a brand new market opportunity, or push the technology into the really competitive stratosphere that (they) really should be in,” he said. “They have to protect their niche, but they have to watch being pigeon-holed as a company that serves just certain verticals, and everybody looks at Palm or Pocket PC.”

Pricing will vary by carrier and location.

RIM can be found at http://www.rim.com.