Weeds in the BlackBerry patch

Expect a bumper crop of BlackBerry wannabes.

The long, sunny afternoons on the deck, dock or beer patio are over. Time to get back to work. And mobile device makers are banking that your thumbs are feeling good and limber.

If the blog rumours are accurate, Research In Motion will launch a new BlackBerry, named the Pearl, this Sept. 12, in the United States. A sleek and shiny black smart phone — more phone than PDA — it is said to feature a media player, a camera with built-in flash and zoom, and external storage for picture, video and audio files. For the Waterloo, Ont.-based kingpin of mobile e-mail, the Pearl will be its first hand-held to directly target high-end consumers, expanding RIM's marketing strategy beyond its core: busy executives and corporate road warriors.

Meanwhile, makers of traditional mobile phones and PDAs have grown their own juicy varieties of BlackBerry-esque gadgets. Which will best match the fickle tastes of busy business people? Probably the one that lets you secretly work from that patio for just a little while longer — before winter comes.