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RIM to offer voice calls with BBM

BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has announced a new feature for its popular BBM messaging service which will allow customers to make free voice calls over a wifi network.

RIM said BBM users will be able to switch back and forth from a text chat to a voice call. A split-screen option will also let them talk and text at the same time.

The Canadian company said the BBM voice feature is especially attractive for developing markets. Unlike regular texts, BBM messages are not charged on a per-text basis.

RIM is struggling in North America to hold on to customers who are abandoning BlackBerrys for flashier iPhones and Android phones. But the BlackBerry continues to sell well in markets like South Africa, Nigeria and Indonesia.

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