First flip-phone BlackBerry launched

Research In Motion is launching a flip version of its popular BlackBerry Pearl smartphone, a move that reasserts its push into the consumer market.

Like RIM's original Pearl model, the first-ever flip BlackBerry comes loaded with multimedia features such as a video and music player and a 2-megapixel camera with flash, as well as a web browser and an abridged keyboard.

"Seventy percent of the mobile phone users in the United States use a flip," claims RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie. "There's never been a smartphone or a BlackBerry option for that."

He added the new device is "extremely important" for capturing more retail users.

The new clamshell flip BlackBerry will be available around the world starting this autumn. No pricing details were immediately.

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