By Patrick Avenell

SYDNEY: Research in Motion (RIM) last night launched its newest BlackBerry device, the Pearl Flip 8220. This new flip phone model is exclusive to Optus and is targeted more at everyday consumers, rather than RIM’s traditional business market.

Despite concerns that the flip form factor is currently unfashionable, with original trailblazers Motorola especially affected, RIM regional vice president, Asia Pacific, Greg Wade was confident that a BlackBerry can be successful in this device model category.

“The popularity of BlackBerry smartphones has grown tremendously in Australia and the introduction of the BlackBerry Pearl Flip phone will help extend the reach of the BlackBerry platform even further,” said Wade.

At the launch party for this model at MTV’s studios in East Sydney, various reality competition non-winners and other difficult-to-recognise celebrities tested out the new BlackBerry smartphone. Fittingly, Australian pop star Sam Sparro (nee Falson) played a 30-minute set at the party, performing songs including his hit “Black and Gold”.

The new Pearl Flip 8220 supports email integration with ISP, Outlook, Lotus, Domino, Exchange and Groupwise. Included software sychronises calendar, address book, tasks and memos. The advertised battery life is four hours of talktime and 14 days of standby time. This smartphone is Wi-Fi and Bluetooth enabled and has a 2-megapixel camera with flash, zoom and video recording. Onboard is 128 megabytes of flash memory, expandable through external microSD.

Talking about this model from the carrier persespective is Optus head of product marketing Phil McDermott.

“Optus sees the growth of the convergence market as a key driver for innovation in products and services that support mobility,” said McDermott. “We have seen this with an increase in demand for smartphones and we expect the launch of the new BlackBerry Pearl Flip to appeal to an even wider market with its blend of flexibility, design and functionality.”

The new BlackBerry Pearl Flip 8220 will be available by the end of October 2008, exclusively through Optus, for $0 upfront on a $79 cap plan.