Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM) announced the launch of BlackBerry Torch 9800 with much fanfare on Wednesday but still left many ardent BlackBerry users questioning its choice of AT&T as the smartphone's official carrier.

BlackBerry Torch is the only smartphone in the market which combines touch screen and keypad features. The model will be available from August 12 for $199.99 with a two-year contract.

However, CNET reported that though the model has received rave reviews many are unhappy with its association with AT&T (NYSE: T). The network has received severe criticism as it has failed to handle traffic generated since the launch of iPhone three years ago, resulting in dropped calls, congested network and slow speed.

With its exclusive rights to sell iPhone coming to an end, AT&T needs a few more star players in its stable. With most of the Android based smartphones like Motorola (NYSE: MOT) Droid and HTC EVO falling into Verizon's (NYSE: VZ) laps and Android-based phones cutting into iPhone's market share, it makes strategic sense for AT&T to embrace RIM's BlackBerry.

With a recent report from Nielsen suggesting that BlackBerry holds 35 percent of the market share with iPhone and Android models holding 23 percent and 27 percent share respectively, it's the BlackBerry's domain that could be a profitable option for AT&T.

Another pointer could be the revelation from Nielsen report that over fifty percent of BlackBerry users in U.S. are contemplating to switch over to either Android or Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone. If such a scenario occurs, then AT&T would be a wise choice for customers who want to transfer from BlackBerry to iPhone, both served by the AT&T network.

For RIM, though, AT&T fits the bill as it has more than 90 million subscribers and sells more smartphones in U.S. than any other. Another reason is that AT&T also offers GSM services, and thus BlackBerry phones will not have to be altered for international markets.

However, as the smartphone market is segmented into the Android based smartphones and iPhones, the carriers too are divided along the same lines. Thus, AT&T is trying to emerge out of its iPhone dependence and is extending its range of offerings, which also includes possible addition of Windows 7-based smartphones to its portfolio.

International Business Times, The Global Business News Leader

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