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3G BlackBerry delayed until August?

A problem with call quality will allow AT&T to avoid having the awkward social moment of seating the 3G iPhone next to a 3G Blackberry, according to a report.

A 3G version of the BlackBerry 8800 series, like the 8820 shown here, could be delayed until August.
CNET Networks

Updated 4/25, see explanation at bottom.

A technical glitch in an upcoming BlackBerry release will prevent an iPhone-Blackberry showdown in June, according to Fortune. AT&T will delay the launch of the BlackBerry 8900 from June to August after concerns about call quality, the magazine reported Thursday, citing unnamed sources. The 8900 will be Research in Motion's first 3G BlackBerry for AT&T, and it had been expected to make its debut right around the same time as Apple is expected to launch a 3G version of the iPhone. UPDATED 6:10pm PT - The device would be the first 3G BlackBerry for AT&T's network, not in general, as the BlackBerry Global Edition launch last year runs on Verizon's 3G EV-DO network. Thanks to mrtokyo below for pointing that out.

RIM and Apple are the two major smartphone companies in the U.S., and that head-to-head competition is expected to intensify when Apple releases the enterprise-friendly software update known as iPhone 2.0 in June. RIM has a lock on the corporate smartphone market in this country, and has been making inroads into the consumer market. Apple is taking the exact opposite tack, going after consumers with the initial iPhone release and announcing plans to put a suit on the iPhone in March.

Fortune speculates that the delay might be an excuse for AT&T to avoid having two competing 3G models on display at the same time in its retail stores, which makes some sense. As the largest wireless carrier in the U.S., however, AT&T is used to balancing phones from multiple vendors.

UPDATED 4/25 - The Boy Genius Report has put up a post claiming the Fortune story was wrong on several accounts, and a rip-off of an earlier story they did. Check it out, Fortune has not changed their article.