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BlackBerry De-Tour: A Tour With Wi-Fi for Sprint

In a rather interesting turn of events, Sprint Nextel announced they will release an updated version of the BlackBerry Tour next year that will feature Wi-Fi capability. In a blog last week I decried Verizon's decision to launch a non-Wi-Fi version of the Tour. The device, you will recall, is a CDMA/EVDO Rev A smartphone that also supports operation on GSM, GPRS, EDGE, and UMTS/HSPA, so it will operate worldwide. Like Verizon, Sprint will be launching the device July 12 for $199.99.According to Jeff Clemow, Sprint's director of business product marketing, Sprint's recently announced Palm Pre, the first device to support Palm's new WebOS, also has a Wi-Fi capability (802.11b/g). Thus far none of the Wi-Fi capable smartphones support the higher-speed 802.11n radio link, and given the power requirements, things will likely stay that way for a while.

This is a rather gutsy move for Sprint as it could very well hamper sales of the device, since consumers might simply wait for the better model they know will be coming later. According to Mr. Clemow, Sprint decided to launch the non-Wi-Fi version so as not to fall behind the curve. "Speed to market...outweighed the desire to wait," he said.

Verizon Wireless spokeswoman Brenda Boyd Raney said, "In terms of the BlackBerry Tour, I won't speak to that specific device but we are certainly working with RIM to be able to offer Wi-Fi on future BlackBerry smartphones".

I wonder how hard they're working.