September U.S. Launch Likely for BlackBerry Bold

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The new BlackBerry model should be coming to North America within a month now that Research In Motion Ltd. has started selling it in Germany, Chile and Britain.

The first major new BlackBerry model in more than a year, the Bold is a high-end BlackBerry that has twice the screen resolution of current models made by RIM.

The Bold, or 9000, matches the resolution, but not the size, of the screen on Apple Inc.'s iPhone, which has emerged as a potent competitor in the smart-phone category.

AT&T Inc. says it will be the exclusive U.S. carrier for the Bold, as it is for the iPhone. An AT&T spokesman declined to say Thursday when the company will release it.

But Peter Misek, an analyst with Canaccord Adams, said he expects AT&T to start selling it on Sept. 15 and Rogers Communications in Canada to release it on Aug. 18.

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Some stores in Canada have already unveiled a store model and fliers.

Genuity Capital Markets analyst Deepak Chopra also expects it will be released in the United States in mid-September.

RIM had announced a summer release for the Bold, but many people had expected the phone to be available in June. Misek said issues with chips and battery life caused a delay.

The company has begun to roll out the BlackBerry Bold in some markets through partnerships with wireless carriers there. RIM unveiled the Bold in Chile on July 22, in Germany on Aug. 6 and in Britain on Aug. 16.

RIM had no comment about specific plans in North America.

Misek said the Bold will cost about $200 in the United States depending on the contract.

According to T-Mobile web site in Germany the cost of the phone without a service plan is 459.95 euros, or about $680. With a plan, it is 129.95 euros, or about $190.

After enjoying years of success in the corporate market, RIM has targeted the consumer market with the Curve and the Pearl. Like those consumer-oriented phones, the Bold has a full-size headset jack and a camera that can also capture video.

The Bold has a glossy metallic look and adds corporate-strength Wi-Fi capabilities to third-generation cellular and Bluetooth radios. Otherwise it stays close to the formula of the Curve, with a horizontal screen above a trackball and a keyboard with one letter per key.

Many people consider the BlackBerry easier to use for e-mail and text-messaging than the iPhone because they have traditional keypads instead of touchscreens.

Misek said the Bold is the first of a series of new models that RIM plans on releasing, including a touchscreen BlackBerry called the Thunder.

Misek said RIM has 5 million to 7 million people who have older versions than the Curve, Pearl and Worldphone and could be targets of an upgrade.