NTT DoCoMo Inc and Research In Motion Ltd (RIM) of Canada announced Sept 29, 2008, that they will release the "BlackBerry Bold" in the Japanese market.

The BlackBerry Bold is a new smartphone equipped with functions improved for individual users. The release is scheduled for the fourth quarter of 2008, but the price has yet to be decided.

Ryuji Yamada, president and CEO of NTT DoCoMo, expressed his strong enthusiasm for the new product saying, "The BlackBerry Bold is a palm-sized smartphone offering the functions equivalent to those of PCs. We intend to sell the product to a wide range of users including business users and personal users."

Currently, the majority of them are corporate users, "but we would like to change the ratio of business and personal users to 7:3 or 6:4," he said.

The BlackBerry manufactured by RIM enjoys high popularity, especially in the North American market. In Japan, NTT DoCoMo released the product for corporate use in September 2006. They are reportedly used by about 1,200 companies in Japan, mostly foreign companies.

NTT DoCoMo recently began to stimulate the demand of personal users by starting the "BlackBerry Internet Service," which allows users who don't have a dedicated server to access the Internet through the BlackBerry, in August 2008.

The BlackBerry Bold offers advanced entertainment functions, including music, video and games, in addition to conventional functionality intended for business use, such as security functionality and the ability to exchange data with corporate groupware servers.

"It is the most powerful smartphone responding to the needs of both business users and personal users," said Kazuhiko Kushima, managing director of NTT DoCoMo Solution Business. Don Morrison, CEO of RIM, expressed his confidence in the new product saying, "The developers of RIM have challenged the physical limit to incorporate various functions into the BlackBerry Bold. I believe the product will be able to offer new experiences to the users."

To expand the base of users, new services will be offered. To begin with, a flat-rate packet plan, which was not included in the BlackBerry Internet Service, will be offered. The rate has not been decided yet, but "it will be decided based on the Biz-Hodai Double (a flat-rate packet plan for mobile terminals equipped with Windows Mobile) to be started in October 2008, Kushima said.

In addition, sending and receiving of i-mode mails, which is in high demand in Japan, will be possible. "We are currently working on its development so that it can be realized as soon as possible within 2009," Yamada said. "The automatic reception of e-mails will also be made possible later on." A portal site that offers and distributes Japanese applications will be prepared as well.

The rate of smartphone utilization is still low in Japan, but the smartphone market has been gradually heating up recently. Starting with the "iPhone" developed by Apple Inc of the US and marketed by SoftBank Mobile Corp, a series of new products, including the "Touch Diamond," a smartphone equipped with Windows Mobile and manufactured by HTC Corp of Taiwan, and the new BlackBerry Bold, will be launched in and after the end of 2008.

The key to its success may lie in services that are appealing to the market, the functions it offers and its pricing.

Movie of the BlackBerry Bold (Japanese)