Our pal sal is continuing his BB leak streak, this time bringing some photos of the BlackBerry "essex" and a little update on the BlackBerry codenamed "dakota" (formerly codenamed "magnum").
BlackBerry Essex: As you can see from the photos above (note - there's plastic covering over the display/trackpad... it is a standard trackpad), on the front side the BlackBerry essex is essentially a BlackBerry Tour with a trackpad (my previous essex quick photoshop job was actually spot on!). As a CDMA follow-up to the Tour, in addition to the trackpad replacing the trackball, the essex (Tour 2?!) will sport WiFi and by the sounds of it, an improved camera - though nobody seems to be quite sure on the megapixels just yet. As for release date, I've been hearing the essex could arrive as early as late January/February. Historically that would be really soon for RIM to release a follow-up device, but seeing as how everything is going trackpad now and that VZW mandated for all future BB's to pack WiFi, pushing this out asap makes sense.
BlackBerry Dakota: We've talked quite a bit about dakota in previous CrackBerry podcasts and a little bit in the blogs prior back when it was codenamed magnum. Surprisingly, no photos have ever dropped to date of magnum or dakota, but essentially it will be RIM's first hybrid device (GSM) that combines a front-facing full qwerty physical keyboard with both a touchscreen and a trackpad. The new news dropped by sal today is that it sounds like RIM may be going in a different direction with the camera lens technology on this one and utilizing a liquid lens.
I'm as excited as all heck for the upcoming releases of the BlackBerry Bold 9700 and Storm 9550/9520, which are both going to be stellar BlackBerry devices, but can't help but get really excited for the new form factors it looks like RIM will be introducing next year (keyboard + touchscreen, vertical slider). It's funny... the stock may have recently taken a beating, but I'm feeling better than ever about the future of BlackBerry!