CTIA week always means lots of news and press releases, and it looks like SPRINT is getting some love this week with the official announcement of the Sprint/Nextel iDen BlackBerry Curve 8350i Smartphone. No pricing or launch date has been stated yet... but at least we "officially" now know it's coming. Press Release after the jump!
Sprint to Deliver Industry-Leading Push-to-Talk Services on New BlackBerry Smartphone
Operating on the fastest national push-to-talk network, the BlackBerry Curve 8350i will be the first from Sprint to offer built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and Group Connect, allowing instant group conversations with up to 21 people nationwide
OVERLAND PARK, KANSAS and WATERLOO, ONTARIO--(Marketwire - Sept. 10, 2008) - Sprint customers seeking the benefits of industry-leading push-to-talk services and the power of BlackBerry smartphones will have a new version of the coveted combo available later this year. Sprint (NYSE:S) and Research In Motion (RIM) (NASDAQ:RIMM)(TSX:RIM) today announced plans to deliver the BlackBerry Curve 8350i - the newest Nextel Direct Connect-capable BlackBerry smartphone - by the end of 2008.
The BlackBerry Curve 8350i will be the latest BlackBerry smartphone to utilize iDEN technology and feature Nextel Direct Connect, the only national push-to-talk service in the industry to offer sub-second call setup and connection to the world's largest push-to-talk community with millions of users and integrated business solutions, including one of the largest selections of GPS-enabled solutions. With Nationwide and International Direct Connect, Sprint customers will be able to instantly connect within the US and to users in other eligible countries including Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Peru. The BlackBerry Curve 8350i will also be the first BlackBerry smartphone from Sprint to offer Group Connect, allowing customers to instantly set up group conversations with up to 20 other participants.
"Smart phones in general, and BlackBerry products in particular, have become more important to both business people and consumers lately," said David Chamberlain, Principal Analyst with analyst firm In-Stat. "The BlackBerry Curve 8350i with PTT capability rounds out Sprint's options to fill communications needs of many industries particularly those in the blue-collar segment of construction, field services, transportation and manufacturing."
"Sprint is the undisputed leader in push-to-talk services, and with the launch of the new BlackBerry Curve 8350i smartphone, we are keeping our promise of expanding the Nextel Direct Connect capabilities and options for our customers," said Danny Bowman, president of Nextel Direct Connect. "The BlackBerry Curve 8350i will be very attractive for business customers who need instant, convenient push-to-talk services to communicate now with employees, customers and suppliers but also want the capabilities of a high-end smartphone."
In addition to delivering the unmatched push email and messaging capabilities of the BlackBerry solution, the BlackBerry Curve 8350i will provide rich multimedia, organizer and Internet browsing capabilities, as well as access to thousands of other mobile applications. The smartphone will also include built-in Wi-Fi capabilities, allowing customers to browse the Internet and download email attachments quickly and easily. When connected to a Wi-Fi network, customers will also be able to send and receive emails or surf the Internet while talking on the phone.
Other key features include:
"The BlackBerry Curve 8350i smartphone will offer customers an exceptional communications and multimedia experience together with the power and convenience of the popular Nextel Direct Connect service," said Mark Guibert, vice president of corporate marketing at RIM. "We are pleased to build on our successful relationship with Sprint to bring this powerful new smartphone to Sprint's customers."
Customers can find more information on the BlackBerry Curve 8350i smartphone and sign up to be notified of commercial availability from Sprint at www.sprint.com/instantconnectbb. Pricing, service plan details and an exact availability date will be announced at a later date.
Nationally, the Nextel National Network continues to operate at best-ever performance levels based on internal metrics. Internal performance metrics show double-digit percent improvement year-over-year (i.e., March 2007 to March 2008) for drops (i.e., where a customer's voice connection fails or drops during a call) and blocks (i.e., where a customer is unable to make a voice connection) for the Nextel National Network. Customer issues related to dropped and blocked calls, and voice quality combined, have decreased more than 60 percent year-over-year (i.e., March 2007 to March 2008). This level of improvement translates to a more reliable calling experience for our customers. Customer calls on the Nextel National Network are successfully connected and maintained better than 99 out of 100 times.
For more information about Nextel Direct connect, please visit www.sprint.com/nextel.