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New BlackBerry 'Pearl' Comes With Expandable Memory

Research In Motion says it's determined to develop one of the smallest and lightest smart phones in the world that has all the capabilities of a traditional BlackBerry.

Research In Motion on Thursday rolled out the BlackBerry Pearl, a smaller and sleeker version of the BlackBerry, in an effort to make its popular smart phone devices more cell phone-like.

The BlackBerry Pearl incorporates a digital camera, a multimedia player with a stereo headset jack for MP3 and AAC music files, and an expandable memory slot--a BlackBerry first. The device is small like a cell phone and weighs 3.1 ounces. RIM says it's determined to develop one of the smallest and lightest smart phones in the world that has all the capabilities of a traditional BlackBerry.

A huge chunk of businesses in the United States use BlackBerry devices to receive their e-mail wirelessly and for access to applications. Palm's Treo devices are also popular among businesspeople, but they're just as widely used by consumers because Treos are stylish and phone-like, and they come bundled with cameras, touch screens, and different multimedia capabilities for watching video and viewing pictures.

Now RIM has its eye on consumers and so-called prosumers, a mixed breed of users that relies on smart phones for both professional and personal needs. For example, the BlackBerry Pearl's built-in 64 Mbyte flash memory, which is now expandable with a MicroSD card, gives users more storage for music, pictures, videos, and data files.

Other features include support for up to 10 personal and business e-mail accounts and instant messaging clients from AOL, Yahoo, and MSN. In addition, the device comes with BlackBerry Maps, a new app for finding directions and maps.

Last week, RIM rolled out the BlackBerry 7130g in the United States, a lightweight device for a class of users the company calls "mobile professionals." The BlackBerry 7130g is exclusively available from one carrier: Dobson Cellular Systems, a provider of wireless services in only 16 U.S. states.

The BlackBerry Pearl will be available in the United States from T-Mobile starting next week.

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