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(Pocket-lint) - Research in Motion, the company behind the popular BlackBerry smartphone series, has suggested there will be Wi-Fi capable handsets launched this year.

Jim Balsillie, one of RIM's CEOs said at a technology conference this week such devices should be available "in the back half of this year."

Sony Ericsson (e.g., the P1) and Nokia (e.g., the e90) have both introduced handsets with similar feature sets to the BlackBerry phones that come complete with Wi-Fi connectivity.

There has been one BlackBerry device with built-in Wi-Fi connectivity – the 7270, but this was aimed at the business rather than consumer market.

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If BlackBerry made the move into the FMC market, and had Wi-Fi capabilities, they would be able to download email through wireless networks, falling back on mobile networks when there was no wireless available.

Obviously no current "converged phone" news item can be considered complete without a mention of the "i" word, so here goes:

Apparently when Balsillie was asked about the forthcoming iPhone, his response was similar to Nokia's recent reply saying it confirmed that people wanted converged devices, but reportedly went onto ask the rhetorical puzzler – is it easier to put an MP3 player in a phone, or a phone into an MP3 player?

Writing by Amy-Mae Elliott. Originally published on 25 May 2007.