BlackBerry Curve 8900 on sale at AT&T stores Friday

The BlackBerry Curve 8900 smartphone will be on sale at AT&T stores starting Friday for $200, after a $100 rebate.

The date is a month earlier than the early summer availability that AT&T Inc. announced May 4, when it touted the device as the thinnest full-QWERTY keyboard smartphone yet.

A spokeswoman didn't explain the earlier-than-expected release, although a rash of new smartphones are expected to ship in coming weeks, including the Palm Pre from Sprint .

Two days later, Apple Inc. officials are expected to divulge details about the iPhone 3.0 and possible on June 8. Typically, Apple's software updates are followed later in the summer by releases of new iPhone hardware.

Late in the summer, a variety of Android devices are expected to ship from various carriers as well.

The 8900 from Research in Motion Ltd. is being pitched as a device for consumers and mobile professionals alike, since it has a 3.2 megapixel camera and an expandable memory card slot that can support 16GB.