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The Blackberry Pearl was RIM's first step at moving out of the business market and into the larger consumer oriented mobile market. Originally released as the 8100 series bar phone, the later 8200 series brought the popular clamshell form factor to Blackberry. These were the first mobiles from Blackberry to include a media player, supporting both video and mp3 audio, although the 64MB onboard memory capacity means that it requires a microSD card for media storage. It was also the first Blackberry device to include a camera.

The name comes from the pearlescent trackball, which replaced the standard Blackberry scroll wheel on the Blackberry Pearl. Its other unique feature is the keyboard, which uses a modified QWERTY layout in a four row by five column array.