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Blackberry picks consumers

Integrated PDA and phone set for summer debut

Research In Motion will be bringing a version of its new Blackberry 6200 handset to the UK this summer aimed at the consumer market for the first time in the company's history.

Previously the Blackberry, which integrates mobile phone and PDA in one handheld, has been sold as a communications tool for large companies, enabling mobile executives to read email and access corporate databases and applications via customised middleware.

But a version of the 6200, launched at CeBit, will be sold with O2, T-Mobile or Vodafone contracts to 'prosumers', defined by RIM as consumers who want the device for a combination of work and leisure.

Customers will be able to forward up to 10 email addresses to the 6200, and use its PDA functions such as diary, notepad and to-do list as well as use it as a mobile phone for voice and SMS.

Price and final release data has yet to be decided, but the 6200 "won't be an impulse buy", said Tilly Quanjer, European spokesperson for RIM.

"Once people realise you can read email as though you are sitting in the office but without needing a cumbersome laptop, they will want it," said Quanjer.

But an integrated device is not a path HP intends to pursue. The company has canned the Jornada 628 smartphone it has been selling in the UK for just less than a year and won’t be launching an integrated iPaq PDA any time soon.

“We’ve done extensive market research and come to the conclusion that consumers prefer a two-piece solution of mobile phone and PDA communicating via Bluetooth,” said Antoine Barre, HP European vice president. “The market isn’t ready for sophisticated devices, although businesses are crying out for them in terms of manageability.”

Consumers want the choice to leave their PDA at home and take just their mobile phone when they go out in the evening, reasons HP. Although businesses want a single integrated device, rather than having to manage two or more mobiles, they still have issues with operating systems, middleware and manageability, said Barre.


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