updated 10:55 am EDT, Wed October 22, 2008
BBerry Bold ATT on Nov 4th
AT&T today finally announced a release date for the BlackBerry Bold on its network, giving the much-delayed phone to customers. Company wireless chief Ralph de la Vega in the company's financial quartely call revealed that the first production 3G BlackBerry for HSPA networks will be available on November 4th, or roughly six months after the provider first announced it as an exclusive for its network in the US. Pricing is set at $300 with a two-year contract.
In addition to faster Internet speed, the phone also includes both GPS and Wi-Fi together for the first time in a QWERTY-keyboard BlackBerry and has an extra-sharp 480x360 display. A 2-megapixel camera is onboard; storage is handled by 1GB internally and up to 16GB or more through a microSDHC slot.
The company hasn't explained its reasons for delaying the phone past its original summer target but is widely believed to have held off due to problems with stabilizing the Bold's firmware. Quality concerns are known to have forced Orange to temporarily suspend sales until Research in Motion could develop a patch, while analysts with early access to the Bold reported 3G signal problems while using AT&T's network not unlike those suffered with iPhone 3Gs before the 2.1 firmware update.
The scheduling of a formal launch helps AT&T partly edge out Verizon, which plans to launch the BlackBerry Storm during the fall and has managed to undermine some of AT&T's success in becoming the sole carrier for the Bold in the US; the two are now to launch their phones within weeks of each other, with AT&T likely shipping first.
It also promises to turn around RIM's disappointing BlackBerry sales, which until now have had to depend on international Bold sales, the Pearl Flip, and older Curve and Pearl models. The company recently suffered one of its first clear defeats in the cellphone market during the summer when iPhones outsold BlackBerries as Apple's high-profile launch and expanded international reach helped it outsell RIM, which still largely targets business users and fares best in North America.