Another Blackberry rival is on the way, this time from High Tech Computer (HTC).

HTC is the largest maker of mobile handsets that run Windows Mobile OS and will launch a smartphone that looks like a BlackBerry, complete with Qwerty keypad, by the end of the year.

The handset, codenamed Excalibur, is designed to promote Windows Mobile's push email function of Microsoft and compete with the popular BlackBerry service offered by RIM. The device, and other BlackBerry-like offerings entering the market raise the stakes for RIM as it faces increased competition.

HTC's new handset will support a host of wireless functions, including GSM, EDGE, WLAN and Bluetooth. The device will likely be launched first by mobile phone service provider O2 in Germany. Excalibur will then be offered in other areas of Europe. Pricing has not yet been announced.

There are a number of contendors vying for the Blackberry crown, including Ogo, out this June, Nokia and Vodafone.

HTC has refused to speak officially about Excalibur but details of the device are available through a review of the company's submissions to the US Federal Communications Commission, available on its website.