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Nokia: BlackBerry phone ripe by 2003

The first Nokia phone to feature BlackBerry maker Research In Motion's e-mail software will debut by the end of 2003, the cell phone giant says.

The first Nokia phone to feature BlackBerry maker Research In Motion's e-mail software will be launched in the United States by the end of 2003, Nokia said Tuesday.

The Nokia 6800, which costs $250 to $350, is aimed at professionals who are used to getting e-mails on BlackBerry devices and includes a keyboard that emerges when the clamshell-shaped phone is unfolded, said Brannon Perkison, a Nokia business applications product manager. Nokia licensed the RIM software earlier this month.

The phone will be supplied to IBM Global Services and Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, Nokia's largest suppliers for businesses, Perkison said. It will also be available to consumers.

Nokia is one of a growing number of cell phone makers and wireless service providers to set its sights on the business market. All of the big carriers are looking for additional revenue sources to ride out the economic malaise and to address the problem of dropping handset sales.

Although it has been popular among corporations, wireless messaging hasn't enjoyed the same kind of success among consumers. Only about 10 percent of the 138 million U.S. cell phone users do anything other than make voice calls on their cell phone, according to various estimates.

A version of the 6800 with the e-mail software inside will appear in the United States some time in the second half of 2003, said Nokia representative Keith Nowak. The phone will be sold without the BlackBerry software by June 2003, he added.

The 6800 uses the GSM (Global System For Mobile Communications) standard. Nowak said GSM operators AT&T Wireless, Cingular Wireless and T-Mobile are likely candidates to sell the phone. Perkison did not say whether any carriers had committed to selling the device.