BlackBerry-maker Research in Motion is apparently gearing up to release a new touchscreen device on August 15 on AT&T, according to the BlackBerry Partners Fund’s John Albright, who spoke today at the paidContent Mobile Conference in New York.
We’ve known for some time that RIM is readying a touchscreen BlackBerry device with a slide-out physical keyboard. Gadget sites have been referring to the device — which would compete directly with Apple’s iPhone and Android smartphones — as the BlackBerry 9800, but its official name is still unknown.
But while we’ve seen quite a bit of the device over the past few months, an official release date has eluded us thus far — all we’ve heard is that it would be available some time this year. Now we have a more concrete date in mind.
VentureBeat spoke to Albright at the conference, and he confirmed with us that the new device is indeed the 9800 (he didn’t mention a name, but said it had a touchscreen and slide-out keyboard), and that thousands of developers already have their hands on the phone.
The 9800’s big selling point is its combination of a physical keyboard — which has kept the BlackBerry-faithful addicted to the platform — and a modern touchscreen interface. It appears the device will run RIM’s upcoming BlackBerry 6 operating system (see video below), which is due for release this summer. The new OS offers a more streamlined interface, as well as full touchscreen support.