Update, 11:00am: Finally a PRESS RELEASE. It's happened. Read it after the jump. That's the end of this blog post for now until we see what happens on the consumer side.
Original Post, 12:30am: It "sounds" like one of the North American GSM carriers got a hold of the next-gen Pearl. According to Crave, AT&T has announced that they are now offering the BlackBerry Pearl 8120, the GSM/WiFi enabled version of the slim and ever-so-popular Pearl "2" device. Can I get a W00t!? Yes, No? Ok, I'm not actually sure that this is the case just yet...
This news of the 8120's availability on AT&T quickly follows rumors posted two days ago by Engadget that AT&T was dropping the 8100 to make room for the 8110 (GPS-equipped version, no WiFi), which they suspected would arrive at AT&T sometime in April.
Again, according to Crave's post, the Pearl 8120 is now available through AT&T's "business channels" for $199.99 (with 2-year contract and after rebates... yadda yadda). Only problem is, I've been searching for more information on this online for the past 30 minutes (other official releases, blog posts, etc.) and other than this post at CNet which links back to Crave which has no actual source listed I can't seem to find any other info to verify if this is 100% true or not. So if you know the full scoop, post it in the comments and let's get this story straight.
Update, 1:30am: After cruising through all the smartphone forums out there, it seems there are a few individuals who have seen documents/releases confirming the 8120 will infact launch on AT&T later today (as I write this it's about 1:30am). This forum post suggests you can even find pics of it up at BlackBerry.com (though when I tried I didn't find them). I'm heading to bed... hopefully when I wake up it'll be crystal clear whether or not AT&T gets the 8120 today.
Update, 8:45am: Still haven't seen any "official" press releases on this from RIM or AT&T, but PC World now has a fairly in-depth article up. It definitely seems that this is becoming true which is wicked news.... unless you are a consumer. According to PC World,
The 8120 makes its debut today--but only to AT&T Wireless corporate customers (via its enterprise channels and its Premier business portal). Pricing for these customers is $200 with a two-year contract, or $350 unlocked.
Given its chic design and multimedia chops, it's a pity that AT&T has chosen to make the Pearl 8120 available only to corporate buyers. But I wouldn't be surprised to see a consumer model appear soon, and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend the Pearl to someone seeking an e-mail-friendly handset that's no slouch in the multimedia department.
What I'm finding strange about this news is that the 8100 has already fallen off of AT&T's website (exception - they have some red refurbed 8100s listed). There needs to be a consumer "Pearl" available - so what's it going to be and when is it going to happen? Is the 8110 going to launch right away for consumers (and the 8120 stays corporate), or will the 8120 get some consumer love too? I'm thinking it will be the latter, and soon. Again, if anybody sees/hears any "official word" on all of this, post it in the comments!
New Handset Provides Simultaneous Voice and Wi-Fi Data Coverage Across Industry's Leading Domestic and International Footprint
SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS--(March 13, 2008) - AT&T Inc. and Research In Motion have announced the availability of the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 for business customers, a global handset with built-in Wi-Fi that combines business-grade communications and multimedia functionality in a small and stylish design. The new BlackBerry Pearl 8120 handset enables AT&T's business customers to use the broadest domestic and international coverage area for wireless data services of any U.S. carrier.
Pricing and Availability
The new BlackBerry Pearl 8120 from AT&T is available for business customers now for as low as $199.99, with a two-year contract, unlimited data plan and $39.99 voice plan. Customers who want personal e-mail access and Web browsing with BlackBerry Internet Service can choose the BlackBerry Personal Unlimited data plan for as low as $30 a month with a qualified voice contract. Unlimited corporate e-mail and data access via BlackBerry(R) Enterprise Server are available for as low as $45 a month when a qualified voice plan is also chosen. Customers who travel overseas can select the BlackBerry International Unlimited data plan for as low as $65 a month with a qualified voice plan.
The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 also supports AT&T Mobile Music(TM) subscription services and AT&T unlimited Push to Talk for walkie-talkie-like communications for an additional $9.99 a month with a qualifying voice plan.
The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 from AT&T - featuring a large, ultrabright 240 x 260 pixel display that supports more than 65,000 colors - measures just 4.2" x 2.4" x 0.5" and weighs approximately 3.2 ounces. It comes in a beautiful sapphire-blue color. The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 combines the renowned BlackBerry e-mail and messaging capabilities - including RIM's SureType(R) keyboard enhanced with word completion, built-in spell-checker and user-customized dictionary - as well as premium phone features and simultaneous voice and data access when connected to a Wi-Fi network.
"The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 combines AT&T's leading domestic and international coverage footprint with its position as the world's leading provider of BlackBerry services to create a compelling global solution for business customers," said Michael Woodward, vice president, Business Voice/Data and Wireless Products, AT&T. "No other domestic carrier can match AT&T's global reach, which links customers' BlackBerry handsets with their company's wireless campus network so that users can access e-mail and browse the Web at Wi-Fi hot spots while making voice calls in more than 200 countries."
"The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 from AT&T delivers the full power of the BlackBerry platform in a sleek and stylish handset that is ideal for both business and personal use," said Mark Guibert, vice president, Corporate Marketing at Research In Motion. "With a range of hardware and software enhancements, including built-in Wi-Fi, the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 is an ideal choice for customers who want a new phone with powerful communications and multimedia features in an incredibly small candy bar design."
The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 also features impressive multimedia capabilities, including a 2-megapixel camera with video recorder(1), an advanced media player, a 3.5-mm stereo headset jack, externally accessible microSD/SDHC memory slot for additional storage and Bluetooth(R) 2.0 with support for headsets, car kits, stereo headsets and other Bluetooth accessories. The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 also provides support for Wi-Fi 802.11b/g networks, allowing business customers to extend the BlackBerry platform to public hot spots(2), corporate wireless local area networks and home Wi-Fi networks while maintaining their existing BlackBerry security architecture.
The global capabilities of the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 handset from AT&T complement AT&T's industry-best domestic and international wide area wireless data coverage. The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 can keep users who are abroad connected with wireless e-mail, Internet access and other mobile applications through data services in more countries than any other U.S. carrier, with data-roaming in more than 145 countries. Customers can also use the BlackBerry Pearl 8120 to make or receive voice calls in more than 200 countries.
The BlackBerry Pearl 8120 handset is powered by AT&T's nationwide(3) EDGE network - the largest high speed national wireless data network in the U.S. - with availability in more than 13,000 cities and towns and along almost 40,000 miles of major highways.
(1) Video capture requires a microSD/SDHC storage card, sold separately.
(2) Access charges from individual Wi-Fi hot spot operators may apply.
(3) Not available in all areas