The BlackBerry Pearl will hit shelves in Austrailia by Christmas according to an AustralianIT interview with Research in Motion co-CEO Jim Balsillie.

The Pearl is a quantum leap from the traditional BlackBerry, featuring audio and video playback, address book, calendar, 1.3 megapixel camera and web browsing, putting it firmly in the smartphone category. The styling is also more phone-like, eliminating the full keypad. RIM hopes high-end consumers, many of whom would already be familiar with the BlackBerry brand, will adopt the handset.

BlackBerry Pearl, Research in Motion, RIM, Jim Balsillie