What could be Research In Motions last major attempt to stay relevant in the increasingly competitive smartphone world begins today at Verizon Wireless. The top U.S. carrier in terms of subscriber numbers has made the BlackBerry Bold 9930 available for purchase online. You can get it at Verizon Wireless retail outlets on Aug. 25.
The new 9930 is the first of the Bold family with both a touchscreen (2.8 inches) and a QWERTY keyboard. Its just 10.5mm thick and is powered by BlackBerry 7, RIMs brand-new operating system. It sports a powerful 1.2GHz processor and a 5MP camera with flash, and 720p HD video recording capability. For the business traveler, its global-ready, with support for wireless voice and data service in more than 200 countries.
BlackBerry 7 offers a next-generation browser for optimized zooming and panning, and smoother Web navigation. It includes a new release of BlackBerry Messenger, which combines the BBM experience with apps, gaming and social networking.
The Verizon version of the device isnt 4G; it will operator on the carriers 3G network. Youll have to shell out $250 with a new, two-year service agreement. It requires a subscription to the Verizon Wireless Nationwide Talk plan, which begins at $39.99 per month, and a smartphone data package, starting at $30 per month.
Expect to see Sprint get its hands on the Bold next. A flier leaked last week shows Aug. 21 as the launch date for Sprints Bold, carrying the same $250 price tag.
Will the new Bold and BlackBerry 7 help bring the once-great Canada smartphone giant back to prominence? The company has been hemorrhaging market share to Apples iPhone and the glut of Android devices out there for several quarters now. But even if RIM has lost the general consumer in the U.S., there is still an enterprise audience out there and an international base that might embrace the companys biggest launch to date. The follow-up to the BlackBerry Torch is also ready for its close-up before the month is out.