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Quick Hits: BlackBerry Tries Desperately To Best iPhone


Brief scrutiny of today's headlines.

Research in Motion (RIMM), long the industry standard in smartphones, is spending heavily to keep its name in front of consumers as it slugs it out toe-to-toe with Apple, (AAPL), the ace of branding.

For the quarter ending in May, Research in Motion spent $326.6 million on sales, marketing and administrative expenses. That was before the iPhone, and it's a good bet that marketing expenses will go higher.

Delays have plagued the launch of BlackBerry Bold, complicating marketing efforts. In the third quarter, Apple's iPhone became the top-selling smartphone.

AT&T (T) tested the Bold extensively, apparently for software glitches - or at least that was the chatter among tekkies. Network problems may have delayed release of the Bold, but some suggest Research in Motion withheld the device to avoid direct comparison with the iPhone as Apple rolled out its new product.

Research in Motion's previous lock on the smartphone market has meant high gross margins. Apple has taken a bite out of that, as evidenced by RIM's higher spending on marketing. Google's (GOOG) G1 is also finding adherents.

Research in Motion seeks to expand beyond it business base by offering the BlackBerry Pearl to individual users.

This is all good news for consumers, who can chose from an array of devices offering a range of features.

So far, there's no such thing as The Rube Goldberg Limit to bells and whistles on a smartphone. All those gizmos drive up the price - and that's good news for manufacturers.
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