RIM unveils new BlackBerry Curve model for low-end market in India

WATERLOO, Ont. – BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion has unveiled a cheaply priced phone it hopes will attract users in India’s thriving telecom market.

The BlackBerry Curve 9220 smartphone’s appeal rests heavily on its use as social media device, rather than on the security and email features that have attracted more business-minded customers in the past.

One of its key selling features is a dedicated side button for its BlackBerry Messenger service. It also has an FM radio tuner and a lower-end quality camera that help keep the device’s cost down.

The new device comes after reports earlier this month said RIM has agreed to give the Indian government to access private instant messages from users, though the company has so far refused to comment.

The company had initially refused the government’s demands for access, saying that encrypted data was a key selling point for its devices.

The new Curve model is intended to keep the company relevant ahead of the launch of its BlackBerry 10 platform slated for later this year.

U.S.-based technology analysis firm Gartner Inc. says India’s mobile phone market is one of the largest in the world, but also incredibly competitive with more than 150 manufacturers selling devices.

Gartner projects that mobile device sales in India will increase 8.5 per cent to 231 million units in 2012.

Shares in RIM were up one cent at $13.31 in early trading on the Toronto Stock Exchange.