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BlackBerry 8800 Debuts Today!

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According to an Associated Press (AP) report, Research in Motion (RIM) is today unveiling a new version of its BlackBerry smart phone.

The all new BlackBerry 8800, the company says, will replace RIM's signature side navigation wheel with a front trackball that first appeared on the 'for consumers' BlackBerry Pearl last year.

The report says the new device will enter a market far more crowded than the one which was prevalent when the BlackBerry 8700 debuted in late 2005.

RIM claims its BlackBerry 8800 is the thinnest BlackBerry till date, measuring a wee 0.55-inch from front to back. The 8800 is also a tad narrower than the 8700 from right to left, although slightly taller.

Besides, it has the ability to pick up signals from Global Positioning System (GPS) satellites for location tracking, as it comes installed with BlackBerry Maps, an application that can use GPS signals to provide driving directions plus integrate with other applications such as sending a map via e-mail.

The BlackBerry 8800 also comes with a media player and an external storage slot for removable microSD memory cards.

In a statement, Jim Balsillie, Co-Chief Executive, RIM, said it was not a tough decision to switch to the front trackball and ditch the traditional sidewheel, which has been used to scroll through e-mail on every BlackBerry model except the Pearl since the BlackBerry and its predecessors were introduced in the 1990s.

Balsillie added that the response to the trackball has been universally positive, and that 80 percent of non-phone usage on the Pearl involves multimedia applications rather than traditional BlackBerry e-mail. If it is just messaging, users need to do only up-down, and left-right. But if they are doing multimedia, the navigation aspects become more important.

Meanwhile, the BlackBerry 8800, which will be available in the US through AT&T's Cingular Wireless starting February 21 this year, is priced at $300 (Rs 13,246 approx) and will come with a two-year contract commitment. According to RIM, the phone will be available from a variety of carriers world-wide beginning this month.

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