The new wi-fi-enabled BlackBerry 8820 could provide RIM with “significant” opportunities in Europe, according to a RBC Capital Markets analyst Mike Abramsky.
The new device is due to come out in North America later this summer. So far, only AT&T has signed up to carry the device.
The 8820 acts as a regular cellphone and can also connect to the Internet through a wi-fi connection at home or at “hotspots.” This innovation allows user to connect to the Internet, and make phone calls, send e-mails or browse the Web without incurring charges from their wireless provider.
According to Abramsky, these dual-mode handsets are still in the “early adopter stage,” and carriers are concerned about them eating into their usage revenue. He also suspects the device isn’t likely to make big initial inroads in the United States because of large the large, cheap data plans already in existence.
However, RIM is looking toward Europe where they are hoping the 8820 could gain particular traction because high landline and cellular pricing there makes dual-mode handsets much more attractive.
On the other side of the earth, however, RIM may face more challenges making inroads into Japan. RIM unveiled a new version of the device this week in one of the largest markets in the world. The Japanese language version of the BlackBerry will go on sale from July 23, and will be offered by Japan's largest cellphone operator NTT DoCoMo, but only to corporate clients for now.
The BlackBerry is the world leading mobile e-mail device but has yet to make a huge impact in Japan. Which is odd given Japan’s reputation for technology adoption and work ethic.
An English language version was released late last year but RIM believes the local language version will significantly boost sales.
Yet, despite the impact in North America the BlackBerry has low brand recognition in Japan. Add to that the fact that mobile telephone users in Japan have been able to send e-mails through their handsets for a number of years.
RIM is hoping the added security features of the new BlackBerry will prove attractive although analysts are skeptical the BlackBerry is going to take off the way it has in other areas of the world.