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Next BlackBerry may add camera, music player, founder says

BlackBerry founder Mike Lazaridis is preparing to add cameras and music players to the most-popular handheld computer to match Palm Inc.'s Treo and Motorola Inc.'s Q phone.

While Research In Motion Ltd., the maker of the BlackBerry, is negotiating to settle a five-year patent battle that may shut the service, a bigger threat may be competition.

"There's a lot of room for new stuff" in the BlackBerry, Lazaridis said at his headquarters in Waterloo, Ontario. "Adding multimedia technology is inevitable."

Research In Motion said last week it's in talks to end a patent dispute with NTP Inc., a sign a resolution may be reached before a court rules on halting service in the U.S. Consumer surveys sho

w BlackBerrys, whose features are limited to e-mail, mobile-phone and day-planning features, are losing cachet.

More than 602,000 Treos were sold last quarter compared with 645,000 BlackBerrys, narrowing a gap that stood at 150,000 in the previous quarter.

Competition may erode BlackBerry's market share to 50 percent in 2010, from 71 percent now, FTN Midwest Research analyst Ben Bollin said. A report last week by consumer researcher Brandimensions showed BlackBerrys had lower "buzz" rating among consumers than Treos.

Plans for TiVo could include giving away set-top boxes

TiVo Inc. chief executive Thomas Rogers said the company that pioneered digital video recorders will explore giving away its set-top boxes to boost subscribers.

TiVo will soon offer pricing that includes an option for the free equipment, spokesman Elliot Sloane said Monday.

The free boxes may be offered with subscriptions to higher-priced and longer-term plans. The Alviso, Calif., company is adding features and exploring ways to boost subscriber growth and fend off cable and satellite TV competition.

Responding to lower-cost recorders from consumer electronics makers, Rogers in September cut TiVo's price to $49.99 from $99 for a box that can record 40 hours. The service costs an added $12.95 per month, or $299 for a lifetime subscription.

A device that holds 80 hours of programs now costs $69.99, down from $219.99 with prepayment of one year's service, according to the TiVo Web site. A factory-reconditioned, 40-hour box is free with 12 months' service, according to the site.

Information from Bloomberg News and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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