RIM makes ‘Bold’ move and creates US$150m app fund

12 May 2008

Research in Motion (RIM) has introduced a new BlackBerry smart phone called the ‘Bold’ phone and at the same time has created a US$150m fund aimed at encouraging a slew of innovative, third-party mobile applications from the software world.

It emerged this morning that RIM has joined forces with Thomson Reuters and RBC Venture Partners to create a US$150m venture capital fund to focus on applications and services for the BlackBerry platform and other mobile services such as payments, advertising, retailing and banking.

The company said the fund will be agnostic to both stage and balance sheet and it will not restrict the development of mobile applications and services to any single platform or any specific industry segment.

Instead, it will focus on encouraging entrepreneurial spirit and creating the most innovative new mobile offerings.

“The mobile world has evolved well beyond phone calls and simple messaging to require more empowering and liberating solutions that connect people to everything that matters most to them, wherever and whenever they want,” said Jim Balsillie, co-CEO, RIM.

“RIM, RBC and Thomson Reuters share the common belief that mobile applications and services will propel the industry forward and the BlackBerry Partners Fund is being formed to help fuel innovation and activity in the mobile ecosystem.”

Coinciding with the launch of the new fund was the unveiling of the much anticipated new BlackBerry device entitled ‘Bold’, the company’s first tri-band offering with HSDPA 3G connectivity.

It also represents the company’s most style-conscious outing yet, with the device featuring satin chrome and a leather-like backplate.

“The new BlackBerry Bold represents a tremendous step forward in business-grade smart phones and lives up to its name with incredible speed, power and functionality, all wrapped in a beautiful and confident design,” said Mike Lazaridis, president and co-CEO, RIM.

The device will come with a 2-megapixel camera and a media player with an equalizer that features 11 preset filters from Jazz to Lounge to Hip Hop. The device also features software that allows quick and easy synchronisation of users’ iTunes libraries.

The Bold will also come with a half-VGA colour LCD screen and a new display format for HTML web pages that allows users to choose between full desktop-style web content or the mobile version.

As well as tri-band and HSDPA, the Bold comes with a Wi-Fi radio as well as GPS mapping functionality. The company said the phone should be available worldwide from various carriers from this summer.

By John Kennedy