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BlackBerry Adds FM to Smartphone Headed Overseas

While 9720 doesn’t appear to be headed here, the still available BlackBerry Curve 9320, 9360, 9380 models do feature FM

BlackBerry has added FM to its 9720 smartphone. However it doesn’t appear the phone will be coming to the U.S.

The company has highlighted the FM feature in its marketing, noting that “With the BlackBerry 9720 smartphone you can listen to local FM stations, and automatically let your BBM friends know what station you’re currently listening to,” according to the company.

The manufacturer is positioning the product as a step-up from a basic smartphone, giving users “all the essentials of the BlackBerry smartphone experience to support a communications-centric lifestyle,” according to EVP for products Carlo Chiarello, who calls the 9720 ideal for consumers upgrading from an entry-level Android or Windows Phone device.

The 9720 comes with BlackBerry 7 OS version 7.1, which features an updated interface that lets users swipe to unlock the phone or access the camera from the lock screen. It also features a dedicated BBM key to access the mobile social network as well as a QWERTY keyboard. With the refreshed BlackBerry 7 OS, users can type a message once and post it simultaneously to BBM, Twitter and Facebook.

The smartphone arrives in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa as well as Latin America in the coming weeks.

Radio World contacted BlackBerry about U.S. availability and a spokesperson said the company did not announce the 9720 is coming to the U.S. and won’t as far as she knows because U.S. customers have moved on to high-end BlackBerry 10 smartphones with LTE capabilities. Several emerging markets continue to buy BlackBerry 7 smartphones based on price and features such as BBM, according to the spokeswoman.

The federal government remains a big BlackBerry user in the U.S. The BlackBerry Z10 and Q10 models with LTE capabilities were approved for DoD use in May; neither appear to have FM capabilities.

However the BlackBerry Curve 9320, introduced in the U.S. in 2012, does offer FM, as do the 9360 and 9380 models, which were introduced earlier. All three are still available in the U.S.

Market research from Kantar Worldpanel suggests that BlackBerry’s U.S. market share dropped to 1.1% in the second quarter of 2013 from 4% in the same quarter last year. Android still had the bulk of U.S. smartphone sales in Q2, even with a slight drop to 51.5% from 52.6% in Q2 2012, according to Kantar, which pegs Apple as second in the U.S. in terms of market share with Q2 sales at 42.5%, up from 39.2% in the same quarter last year.