RIM, Apple Head for the Holidays

Will new products be enough?

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Apple's new round of iPods and Research in Motion's latest clamshell version of the BlackBerry Pearl Flip are out this week, setting the pair up for what could be a tough season for gadget shopping.

Investors look a bit more excited about RIM's announcement than Apple's (RIM shares were up about 3 percent before the market's open), after the biggest news following Apple's press conference yesterday was that Steve Jobs is healthy. RIM seems to be gearing up for a huge push for consumers this holiday, and the flip phone is likely just the first of several new products aimed at fully moving the firm into the smartphone consumer sector (A touch screen, a new Bold, and a slider model may be in the works, too.)

Bottom line: The iPhone may still be the category's brightest star, but the number of RIM offerings will continue to make a bigger play during the year's biggest shopping months.

Also, a quick thought on design: Nokia lost out years ago by misjudging consumers' love of clamshell-style phones. Is it possible that Apple's iPhone has turned the needle among a new generation of users who will ultimately pick the more efficient "candybar" shape? Have we moved at all past the need for our phone to ultimately resemble Star Trek communicators? Thoughts?