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BlackBerry Pearl Features Move to RIM Business Phones

Research in Motion, which has been slowly adding consumer-type features to its e-mail-centric BlackBerry, has finally gone all the way, delivering the new BlackBerry 8800, which sports the best features of its recent hit, the BlackBerry Pearl, while keeping a business focus.

The 8800 brings a lot of the features that people liked in the BlackBerry Pearl (including music file support, trackball interface and GPS) into an enterprise friendly QWERTY form factor. One key difference between the two devices, besides form factor, is the omission of the Pearl's 1.3 megapixel camera which will probably please enterprises. Sadly, the 8800 is lacking in HSDPA support leaving GSM customers in the lurch for a BlackBerry with high speed data access (Verizon and Sprint both have EVDO enabled BlackBerry devices in their portfolio), nor does the device include WiFi (which was rumored to be included in this release).

Meanwhile, it's good to see that BlackBerry is continuing to open its BlackBerry platform through its BlackBerry Connect program, allowing users of non BlackBerry hardware to access e-mail and corporate data through BlackBerry Enterprise Server. However, it looks like most of the issues we had with the platform during our review of BlackBerry Connect for Palm (specifically with regard to policy and device management) haven't been addressed. It will be interesting, as BlackBerry continues to offer BES to more platforms, if they will continue to act as just a conduit to the BES environment or start to add device and policy management to better compete with Good, Sybase and other vendors that offer both mobile e-mail along with device and policy management support.

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