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BlackBerry won't be squeezed by iPhone

Apple's recently launched iPhone doesn't pose a serious threat to BlackBerry, says RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

The recent launch of Apple's iPhone does not pose a threat to Research In Motion's recently launched BlackBerry Pearl consumer smart phone. In fact, it is just another ordinary competitor in an already competitive market, RIM's co-chief executive said in an interview.

"It's kind of one more entrant into an already very busy space with lots of choice for consumers," Jim Balsillie said of the iPhone. "But in terms of a sort of a sea-change for BlackBerry, I would think that's overstating it."

Balsillie made his comments as RIM launched the slimmest BlackBerry thus far. Known as the 8800, the new model is a full-keyboard device equipped for the first time with a built-in global positioning system.

"It's definitely the thinnest BlackBerry yet ... and definitely the premium product for the broad audience of mobile professionals," he said.
 
Unlike the retail-aimed Pearl, which debuted to rave reviews in September, the 8800 is the latest version of the ubiquitous hand-held e-mail device aimed at the professional market. It can play music and videos and will be available first in North America.
 
While the BlackBerry has been a world-wide smash among business, legal and other professional users, it has yet to gain the same widespread acceptance among retail customers.

The Blackberry Pearl was designed to play in the consumer space, but it almost immediately found a competitor in Apple's iPhone.
 
Balsillie said the iPhone's launch validates the thinking that multimedia features such as music should be expected in cell phones.

Blackberry has been slow to arrive in the Middle East, but a recent distribution agreement with Emitac Mobile Solutions and partnerships with local mobile network operators will see the smartphone launch this year in most Gulf countries.

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