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RIM unveils low-cost BlackBerry for developing markets

Research In Motion is combating competition from low-cost Android manufacturers with the new BlackBerry Curve 9220, designed especially for developing markets.

Research In Motion introduced its latest low-cost BlackBerry for developing markets in India today as it tries to keep pace with its Google Android competitors.

The new BlackBerry Curve 9220 is an upgrade to a previous low-cost version of the BlackBerry and will soon be rolled out all across Asia. The phone itself is basic when compared to smartphones sold in the U.S., Canada, and Europe. It runs BlackBerry OS 7.1, has a 2-megapixel camera, and only operates on a 2G network. But the big deal about this phone is that it's affordable. At a retail price of about $215, (10,990 INR) it's specifically targeted to address a low-cost market.

While RIM has been struggling to compete against Google Android and Apple in western markets, it's performed well in the developing world. The company has lost significant market share in the U.S. as the iPhone and a slew of Android devices have caught the attention of consumers. Meanwhile, RIM has been growing its business in markets such as India, Malaysia, and Thailand, along with other developing markets in the Middle East.

As RIM tries to get its business back on track in the U.S. and Canada, it's also looking to continue growth overseas in these developing markets. But keeping the momentum may not be as easy as it sounds. And the Curve 9220 is an attempt to keep up with growing competition from low-cost Android entrants. These Android devices offer an app-centric experience for customers in these markets who can't afford Apple's iPhone. And BlackBerry, which has only basic apps, doesn't offer that same experience. That said, the company's BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service and e-mail services are still very popular in these regions of the world.

But these services have come under fire in some of these countries where authorities have demanded access to RIM's security keys. A couple of years ago, India and Saudi Arabia along with some other countries threatened to shut down RIM's BlackBerry Enterprise Servers.