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RIM welcomes iPhone, intros Blackberry 8820

Research In Motion (RIM) boss Mike Lazaridis has welcomed Apple's entry into the smartphone space - while also launching a new product of the company's own.

"Hats off to Mr. Jobs for growing the whole industry," Lazaridis told shareholders at a meeting in Ontario yesterday. "We all knew the smartphone market was growing. Some of us believe that eventually all phones will be smartphones. I think what the iPhone announcement did was that it just accelerated the public's awareness and acceptance of a smartphone."

Lazaridis also showed off the new Blackberry 8820 , a dual-mode phone that enables you to make phone calls using a mobile phone network or via 802.11a/b/g Wi-Fi.

The RIM Blackberry 8820 also comes with built-in GPS satellite navigation and can play back both music and videos. It is also the slimmest Blackberry every announced by the company, and includes an microSD / microSDHC slot giving it a theoretical maximum storage capacity of 32GB. Only 8GB cards are available now.

The Blackberry 8820 goes on sale in the US late this summer and - like the iPhone - will be limited to EDGE, GSM and GPRS on AT&T's mobile network . Info on availability in other countries will be made available within the next few weeks RIM says.