T-Mobile, RIM launch new color-screen BlackBerry

A few months after the launch of the BlackBerry 7230 in Europe, Research in Motion Ltd. (RIM) brought the device to the U.S. in partnership with T-Mobile USA Inc., the companies announced Monday.

The BlackBerry 7230 is a triband (900MHz/1800MHz/1900MHz) GSM/GPRS (Global System for Mobile Communications/General Packet Radio Services) device that lets users access e-mail along with the Internet and voice networks around the world. It was launched in Germany and Austria on June 2 through T-Mobile International AG, but is now available in the U.S. for US$399.99.

Users can send SMS (Short Message Service) text messages on the device, and take advantage of its personal digital assistant functions such as a calendar, address book, and task list.

RIM improved the browsing capability of the 7230, as compared with older devices, with scalable vector graphics and support for Java applications, said Jim Basillie, co-chief executive officer of RIM, based in Waterloo, Ont. The color display was also designed to minimize power consumption, and therefore extend battery life, he said.

T-Mobile will charge US$29.99 a month for unlimited e-mail and other mobile content, while the voice service fee is separate, said Scott Ballantyne, vice president of business services marketing for T-Mobile, based in Bellevue, Wash. T-Mobile is currently the only carrier that offers the BlackBerry 7230, he said.

RIM’s legal battles entered a new phase last week, when a federal judge issued an injunction prohibiting RIM from making or selling BlackBerry handhelds in the U.S. That injunction was immediately stayed pending an appeal, and RIM will continue to defend itself against charges of patent infringement by NTP Inc., Basillie said. [See,Court lets RIM keep its day job for nowAug. 6]

NTP claims it owns wireless messaging technology, and a decision against RIM will drag down the rest of the industry, Basillie said. The patents in question are being reexamined by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, and RIM hopes to postpone the appeal until that reexamination is complete, he said.

Find RIM at www.rim.com.