AT&T has announced that its BlackBerry Bold smartphone will go on sale in the US on November 4, starting at a price tag of $299.99 with a two-year contract.

The device will operate on AT&T's HSDPA network in more than 300 US cities and on similar networks in 60 countries, including Korea and Japan, the carrier said.

The Bold was first announced in May, when rumours first circulated about the BlackBerry Thunder, which Verizon Wireless will begin selling later in the year. The Bold had earlier been referred to as the BlackBerry 9000; it's now known as the BlackBerry Bold 9000, as the first in RIM's line of BlackBerry Bold smartphones. It went on sale in Britain back in September.

Move over, Android. Here comes BlackBerry Bold

The Bold features a smaller screen than the Thunder, but it also has a qwerty keyboard, instead of an onscreen keyboard. It boasts a powerful 624-MHz mobile processor, with 1GB of onboard storage, which can be upgraded to 16GB with an SD expansion slot. Built-in GPS and Wi-Fi are also provided.

AT&T said that the Bold can run cellular video and mobile music services, but also noted that it will work with the BlackBerry Enterprise Server, allowing advanced IT administration and security. Verizon Wireless has touted both the consumer and business-user qualities of the BlackBerry Storm as well, noting that IT managers have come to rely on BlackBerry security more than other devices.

The announcement of Bold's availability came on the same day that T-Mobile USA put the G1 Google Android phone on sale, amid a season of smartphone launches that included the July iPhone 3G launch by Apple Inc.

Motorola also said this week that it is building its own Google Android phone, with a touchscreen and slide-out qwerty keyboard.