The new BlackBerry Curve – a smartphone designed to lure consumers over to the platform with its emphasis on style and multimedia capabilities – has finally launched in Australia.

BlackBerry, which launched in 1999, has previously been aimed squarely at the business or enterprise end of the market, but with the launch of its previous Pearl handset, and now the Curve, the company hopes to broaden its target market to those wishing to use the device and push-email service for personal use.

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Accordingly, the Curve has been designed with style and sleekness in mind, in an attempt to shed the “serious” or business-focused image previously associated with BlackBerry.

It is the smallest and lightest full QWERTY BlackBerry handset to date. It combines a 2 megapixel camera, built-in flash as well as the traditional BlackBerry email and messaging capabilities and full HTML browser. The company is also sticking with its “trackball” navigation tool as, according to RIM VP Norm Lo, the company has received a lot of good feedback about the feature from its customers.

Said Lo: “We are finding that about a third to a half of people visiting our website for information on BlackBerry are clicking on ‘for personal use’ rather than ‘for business.’ And in the last quarter we have seen an increase in the number of people walking into a store and buying a BlackBerry handset purely because they like the look of it, and use it just as a phone. Then what happens is once they discover the other things they can do with the device, they go back to the store and get some sort of data plan.”

The EDGE/GPRS/GSM-enabled Curve comes with a new media manager application, included with the BlackBerry Desktop Manager software, is Bluetooth compatible and supports expandable memory via a microSD slot as well as BlackBerry Messenger, Google Talk, and Yahoo! Messenger.

The Curve is available through Optus, Vodafone and Telstra, with Optus offering the phone at an RRP of $739 from “mid-July.” Pricing details from Vodafone and Telstra are yet to come, so stay tuned for an update.

See: www.blackberry.com 

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