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RIM, Motorola Ready To Rumble With iPhone

With RIM's recent product announcements, it's clear the Canadian smartphone maker isn't ready to cede any market share to Apple's yet-to-be-released device. And in an interview this week, Motorola CEO Ed Zander leaked Motorola's plans to launch a new "media monster" device next week. The battle is joined!
With RIM's recent product announcements, it's clear the Canadian smartphone maker isn't ready to cede any market share to Apple's yet-to-be-released device. And in an interview this week, Motorola CEO Ed Zander leaked Motorola's plans to launch a new "media monster" device next week. The battle is joined!Research in Motion hosted its annual Wireless Enterprise Symposium this week in Orlando. After Monday's Analyst Day, the consensus is that, despite last month's BlackBerry email service outage, RIM is prepared to tackle the consumer market and fend off newcomer Apple. Mike Abramsky, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, told The Street that the "Curve is just the beginning of a strong product cycle." The Curve, announced last week, is RIM's latest effort aimed at consumers. That RIM took pains to improve the media player on the device shows that it knows where its competition lays. It also made sure to give the Curve an appealing design.

The last week of April also saw another announcement from RIM, the 8830 Worldphone, which is expected to be available by the end of May. With its combined CDMA and GSM radios, the 8830 is aimed at business users who will likely travel overseas. Despite their individual weaknesses, these two devices shore up RIM's product portfolio. Because they are targeting business users and prosumers, the likelihood that the consumer-oriented iPhone will have a serious impact on RIM's market share is low.

RIM isn't the only company looking to protect its turf. At the Software 2007 conference Wednesday in Santa Clara, Calif., Motorola CEO Ed Zander said, "I think [the iPhone is] going to, in some cases, reinforce what we have been trying to do and are doing with the mobile Internet. Applications such as multimedia and video and photos and music are going to be done on these devices." Motorola's response to the iPhone is a multimedia device that Zander plans to unveil next week in New York City.

"This has unbelievable video capability. It's a media monster," Zander bragged. According to him, the new device will be able to play video or movies that are stored on an SD card. More details will be disclosed at next week's event. Based on Zander's limited comments, this device targets the same market segment as the iPhone.

Nokia, to a lesser degree, is also upping the ante a little bit. By making its N95 uber-media device available to U.S. consumers (although not through regular channels), it has taken the first steps to reclaiming some of its lost glory.

Even if the iPhone is a complete failure, one thing is for certain. Apple has stirred the pot, and forced the wireless industry to step up efforts to produce compelling devices.