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BlackBerry Niagara To Spark Smartphone Showdown

With a A May release for Niagara, BlackBerry and Verizon will have a solid smartphone play around the same time competitors gear up to get new devices on the market.

smartphone

The long-rumored BlackBerry Niagara doesn't have an exact release data or pricing model, but The Street this week quoted analysts who said the Niagara will land on Verizon Wireless' network in just about two months.

The BlackBerry Niagara is expected to build on the success built by Research In Motion's popular line of BlackBerry Curve devices. The Niagara is expected to be bigger than the Curve but smaller than the BlackBerry Bold, while featuring the same 480 x 320 screen as the Bold, which is exclusive to AT&T in the U.S. Also similar to the Bold, Niagara is expected to run the same 624MHz CPU processor.

In addition, Niagara is expected to run BlackBerry OS 4.6. It will feature a full QWERTY keyboard, EV-DO Rev. A, a GPS, a 3.2-megapixel camera and BES 5.0 support.

Not only would a May release for Niagara reinvigorate Verizon's BlackBerry lineup, which has been start-stop lately with the touch-screen BlackBerry Storm, but it would also give BlackBerry and Verizon a solid smartphone release around the same time competitors gear up to get new devices on the market.

Palm and Sprint have partnered to launch the Palm Pre sometime in the first half of this year. Despite reporting massive third-quarter losses, Palm is hoping the Sprint-exclusive Pre will be its smartphone salvation and pull it out of slumping smartphone sales.

And the industry is also abuzz with speculation that Apple will drop a new iPhone come June or July. While Apple has not yet said the awaited follow-up to last year's Apple iPhone 3G is on the horizon, industry watchers speculate that Apple's unveiling of iPhone OS update 3.0 is a signal that a new iPhone is imminent, with AT&T maintaining the exclusive carrier rights on the iPhone in the U.S.

The Pre, iPhone and Niagara all hitting around the same time will make for a spring and summer showdown between three of the major carriers and three of the top device makers. While no dates are set in stone, it's already gearing up to be a wild smartphone season. If all goes as speculated, the industry could be in for a heated competition that began last year when the Apple iPhone 3G, the Google Android T-Mobile G1 and the BlackBerry Storm squared off in the clash of the touch-screen titans.

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