Following the summer addition of the BlackBerry Torch device, AT&T announced Wednesday that by years end it will add two more 3G smartphones BlackBerry Pearl and BlackBerry Curve — from Research In Motion, giving smartphone users an alternative to the iPhone from Apple Inc. and providing another battleground for the rival device makers.
BlackBerry devices compete with iPhone, but they are not trying to be iPhone, said Andrew M. Seybold, CEO and principal analyst of Andrew Seybold, Inc. If you look at the first iPhone vs. the first BlackBerry device, it was strictly a consumer vs. business product. Since that time, two things have happened, the iPhone has become more business-friendly and the BlackBerry has gained popularity on the consumer side,” he said. At the end of the day, Seybold continued, it all comes down to preferences.”
For instance, Seybold noted that one advantage to being a RIM user is that the new 3G models are sleeker and lighter, yet they still work the same way as their predecessors, and the apps continually run the same way. It is a comfortable next move into the next generation of product, and these two models fit that mold perfectly,” he said.
Rob Enderle, principal analyst for Enderle Group, agreed. The iPhone is a screen phone, so these (Curve and Pearl 3G) will appeal more to more traditional keyboard focused buyers,” Enderle said.
With the new products, AT&T is also enticing new customers to choose from two of its monthly data plan options, $15 for 200MB of wireless data or $25 for 2GB. Chris Hazelton, research director for mobile and wireless at 451 Group, said this will help the carrier in the long-term. The major advantage here for AT&T is getting additional subscribers onto a data plan with a lower cost capable smartphone, Hazelton said. For RIM, this means additional BlackBerry subscribers and additional device sales as it looks to drive consumers to smartphones from competing feature phone offerings.”
Curve 3G is priced at $99.99; it is set for shipment in time for the holidays. Pearl 3G is priced at $149.99 via the same purchasing networks beginning Oct. 17.