Take the BlackBerry Tour

I’ve been pretty excited about the new BlackBerry Curve 8900 that my office handed me to replace a prehistoric 8800-series machine. Now there’s a new BlackBerry device, the Tour, which is making its debut this summer. So naturally, I rushed to check out the specs on the web to see what I missed.

Here’s what it’s got: 4.4 inches tall, 2.4 inches wide and 0.6 inch thick. There’s a 3.2 megapixel camera, enhanced media player with 256MB built-in memory, video playback and recording capability, and other consumer-friendly features. At under 5 ounces, it’s a little heavier than the Curve 8900, but it doesn’t look that much different.

But Research in Motion Co-Chief Executive Jim Balsillie told Reuters this latest phone is a “big step forward.” They’re calling it a “world phone”, which means globetrotters can easily access voice and data services on networks outside their home country.

Like the Curve, the Tour is meant to appeal to both executives and regular folks, i.e. those who don’t wear suits but like to surf, e-mail and take pictures on their smartphones.

The Tour will launch with Verizon and Sprint in the US, and Telus and Bell in Canada. But long before then, we’ll get a temperature check on RIM. It’s due to report earnings this week. And analysts expect the Canadian company to do just fine, although it remains to be seen how Apple’s aggressive new pricing on the iPhone will impact BlackBerry sales going forward.

from DealZone:

BlackBerry maker’s CEO sends letters of reference to sway NHL

balsillieJim Balsillie, the co-CEO of BlackBerry maker Research In Motion desperately wants a National Hockey League franchise and relocate it to his native Southern Ontario.

Balsillie has tried twice in recent years to buy a hockey team, only to be blocked by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, who this week assured people there was nothing personal between him and Balsillie. Balsillie is currently locked in a court battle with the NHL in his efforts to move the bankrupt Phoenix Coyotes to Hamilton.

On Monday, Balsillie sent in his application to the NHL explaining why the Phoenix Coyotes should move to Hamilton, Ontario and why he'd make a good owner. Late Tuesday, he supplemented that with 22 letters of recommendation from a variety of mostly Canadian VIPs.

RIM says phones will still trump netbooks

Amid a wave of hype about wireless gadgets like netbook computers and mobile internet devices, Research In Motion’s Co-CEO Jim Balsillie says he will keep focused on the BlackBerry maker’s core business of phones even as computer makers are starting to make phones and phone rival Nokia eyes netbooks.  

This means that Balsillie is focused on developing more new versions of each of BlackBerry phones: those shaped like candy-bars, with touch-screen controls and devices with mini-QWERTY keypads. 

“Form factor is a personal preference but it’s got to be something that lasts the better part of the day and you can hold up to your ear and clip onto your belt,” he said  in response to our question about his vision for future products. “Those are a very tight systems constraints for a netbook.” 

HP lets you print from a BlackBerry

We’ve been hearing for years about the so-called “paperless office” but it seems as mythical as ever. This is of course not such a bad thing for printer giant Hewlett-Packard, which is aiming to provide businesses with new avenues to print stuff.

HP announced on Monday, along with Research in Motion, that it will extend its Web-based CloudPrint service to the BlackBerry, allowing users to print directly from the ubiquitous email devices.

“For the first time you are truly mobile on everything,” said Patrick Scaglia, chief technology officer of HP’s imaging and printing group, in a interview.

RIM tops iPhone with consumers in Q1

In a rivalry that should only grow more heated in the months to come, Research in Motion’s BlackBerry Curve moved past Apple’s iPhone in the first quarter to become the best-selling consumer smartphone in the U.S., research group NPD said on Monday.

RIM had three of the top five best-selling consumer smartphones in the period, with the Storm at No. 3 and the Pearl at No. 4, NPD said. T-Mobile’s G1 ranked No. 5.

NPD credited a “buy-one-get-one” promotion by Verizon Wireless for the Curve’s push past the iPhone.

Apple App Store hits the big 1,000,000,000

One billion makes for a catchy and memorable milestone. The world’s population passed the 1 billion mark in 1804. McDonald’s sold its 1 billionth hamburger in 1963. The 1billionth PC shipped in 2002.

Apple’s App Store hit that mark today, in just nine months, with much fanfare.

Granted, downloading a small program to your iPhone or iPod Touch is an entirely different sort of commerce than selling a burger or a PC, but Apple’s app universe has managed to acquire a remarkable amount of cultural currency in a short amount of time.  As evidence, look at the controversy over the “Baby Shaker” app, which Apple quickly removed and apologized for on Thursday (the company’s statement said in part “this application was deeply offensive and should not have been approved for distribution on the App Store”).

Las Vegas telecoms show fizzles out

The CTIA’s annual U.S. wireless technology showcase in Las Vegas was quieter than usual this year as vendors sent fewer employees and rented less floor space for their booths in an effort to crimp spending due to the recession.

Aside from a lot of talk about cellphone applications and a software store launch from BlackBerry maker Research In Motion, the show offered few surprises.

A handful of operators and vendors, however, offered insights into their technology strategies — even if they were less than keen to indicate how their businesses were faring exactly. Some even launched new gadgets.
AT&T, the exclusive operator for the iPhone, used the show as an opportunity to talk up application sales for its less fancy phones, which have brought it $1 billion in revenue in the last few years. In comparison, it does not get a revenue share for iPhone apps, which kicked of the craze for application stores when they launched last year.

U2 world tour, brought to you by RIM

The megawatt Irish rock band U2, which has had a relationship with Apple going back several years, surprised a few people on Monday when it announced the sponsor for its upcoming 360 Tour: Research in Motion.

Of course, Apple’s iPhone and RIM’s BlackBerry are fierce rivals in the emerging smartphone market. But U2 has a history with Apple, appearing in iPod commercials and performing at a blockbuster Apple event back in 2004. There was even a special-edition U2 iPod.

U2 manager Paul McGuinness had this to say about the band’s new relationship with RIM:

Verizon Wireless sells out of BlackBerry Storm early?

Has Verizon Wireless already run out of BlackBerry Storm phones?

Buyers who didn’t get to Verizon stores in time on Friday, the first day of sales, were first told that they would get the touch-screen iPhone rival in about five to seven days.

But by Monday morning, Verizon’s website was only promising that orders would be shipped by mid December, citing “limited availability.” Dec. 15 was also the date cited by at least one midtown Manhattan store, which had run out early on Friday.

Does this signal overwhelming demand that took Verizon and Research In Motion by surprise, or some sort of problem? RIM referred questions about the delay to Verizon Wireless. Verizon Wireless was still not commenting by 4.45 PM Monday.

Latest BlackBerry: A Storm but not a killer

All eyes will be on Research In Motion on Friday when the BlackBerry Storm, the latest high-profile cell phone for the U.S. market, hits the streets. The CrackBerry maker’s much anticipated touch-screen offering is Verizon Wireless’ big bet for the holiday season this year.
But while Thursday’s reviews praised the device for its innovation and its advantages over iPhone, they by no means gave in to the hero-worship flattery that is bestowed on some devices.

In the words of Ed Baig of USA Today, “Verizon and Rim have not come up with a perfect Storm, but it does pack a wallop.”

    What he liked:
    -The battery “didn’t seem to poop out quite as fast as iPhone.”
    -It works as a tethered modem, has expandable memory, multimedia messaging, supports copy-and-paste and other features missing in the iPhone.
    -It has robust e-mail capability
    -It has backbutton and a video recorder unlike iPhone, and has a better camera