RIM to sell BlackBerry Bold in Japan in early 2009

TOKYO, Sept 29 Mon Sep 29, 2008 5:15am EDT

TOKYO, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Canada's Research In Motion RIM.TO will sell its high-end BlackBerry Bold in Japan through No.1 carrier NTT DoCoMo (9437.T) from early 2009.

RIM RIMM.O is betting that new product launches around the world will help it raise its global market share even though initial costs will eat into its gross margins.

Donald Morrison, RIM's chief operating officer, said the company sees a big opportunity in the "absolutely huge" Japanese market and necessary technologies to support RIM's products are already in place.

"The challenge for us is to get our products localised," he told Reuters on the sidelines of a briefing to introduce the Bold in Japan.

"Once they are localised and pass the certification, the opportunity, particularly in the enterprise base, is an essentially still wide open market."

The Bold is RIM's most advanced smartphone to date and is the first BlackBerry to support high-speed HSDPA cellular networks. It comes with integrated GPS, Wi-Fi and a host of multimedia features.

RIM warned last week that profit in the current quarter would be lower than analysts expected because of higher costs related to its new products, and its shares plunged about 25 percent the following day. [ID:nN25530058][ID:nN26299272]

DoCoMo is already selling BlackBerry in Japan. Its introduction of the Bold is part of its plan to almost double its smartphone line-up to 10 by next year to tap growing demand for phones with computer-like capabilities.

Softbank Corp (9984.T), Japan's third-biggest mobile phone operator, started selling Apple Inc's (AAPL.O) iPhone in July and is trying to capture corporate demand for the smartphone to compete with the BlackBerry. (Reporting by Sachi Izumi; Editing by Michael Watson)

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