BlackBerry Pearl Takes a Walk on the White Side

Research In Motion and T-Mobile on Monday rolled out a new, “pearl white” version of the popular BlackBerry Pearl smartphone.

Previously available only in “piano black” from T-Mobile and Cingular, the white version is available exclusively from T-Mobile. Discounted pricing is US$149 with a two-year contract.

Released last fall, the BlackBerry Pearl offers phone, e-mail and Web browsing capabilities. Among its multimedia features are an 1.3 megapixel digital camera, and MP3 player and video functionality.

Black-and-White Cash Cow

“The BlackBerry Pearl has proven that it’s possible to provide a full-featured handset at an attractive price point with an uncompromising user experience and an extremely small, light and stylish design,” said Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing for Waterloo, Ontario-based Research In Motion.

Following the release of the black Pearl in September, RIM reported revenues of $835.1 million for the quarter ended Dec. 2 — up 26.8 percent from the previous quarter and 49 percent from the year-ago period. Profits increased from 61 cents to 95 cents per share over the previous year.

Converging Markets

After focusing for years on corporate users with the original BlackBerry, RIM has made its first foray into the consumer market with the Pearl. This broadening of focus may represent an evolution in the direction of the mobile phone market.

“It’s interesting that you have the consumer mobile phone manufacturers moving more into the enterprise space, and you have RIM moving more into the consumer realm,” noted Ira Brodsky, president of Datacomm Research.

“A few years from now, all mobile phones will be smartphones, whatever you use them for,” he told TechNewsWorld. “We’re standardizing, so it will be easier for developers to develop applications for both enterprise users and consumers.”

Future Threats?

It is possible that Apple’s forthcoming iPhone, with its touch-screen interface, may pose a threat to the BlackBerry Pearl, which does not use touch-screen technology. However, Brodsky believes RIM may have enough proven strengths to hold its own in the market.

“RIM provides a lot of back-end capabilities that could still be an advantage for consumers,” he said.

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