Vodafone will be one of the first carriers outside the US to carry RIM’s new BlackBerry Torch device, the vendor’s first touchscreen unit to feature a slide out qwerty keyboard.
The carrier’s UK division has opened pre-registration for consumers interested in purchasing the device, which RIM unveiled yesterday alongside an updated BlackBerry operating system.
BlackBerry Torch is RIM's first device with integrated support for its App World applications store, and it also comes pre-loaded with a number of social networking and entertainment applications including Facebook, Twitter and sports channel ESPN.
An integrated WebKit browser and tabbed browsing are also included.
Mike Lazaridis, RIM president and co-CEO, said the device is “one of the most significant launches in RIM’s history,” adding that the unit brings “exciting new dimensions,” to the BlackBerry platform when combined with the new BlackBerry 6.0 OS.
AT&T will launch the unit in the US on August 12 under a six month exclusive contract, WSJ.com reported.
However, that exclusivity could hinder the device’s ability to compete with Apple’s all-conquering iPhone 4, which hit five countries when it launched in June, and has since gone on sale in 17 more.
BlackBerry 6 has a redesigned interface, RIM said, offering context-sensitive menus and a universal search bar capable of searching the phone, Web and BlackBerry App World store simultaneously.
The Torch is currently the only phone compatible with the new OS, but RIM said it plans to roll out BlackBerry 6 to its Pearl, and Bold 9700 and 9650 units.
RIM’s share of its core North American smartphone market fell 6.2% to 43% in 2Q according to Canalys, however IDC said the firm increased its global market share 0.6% to 3.5% during the quarter.