China Telecom to launch sales of BlackBerry

08:37, November 24, 2009      

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Negotiations that could put BlackBerries in the palms of Chinese users as early as February have reached their final stages, said a source close to China Telecom.

China Telecom has been reportedly talking with BlackBerry developer Research in Motion (RIM) since June to bring the latest handsets to the Chinese market.

"Competition among China's three telecom operators for subscribers will heat up over 3G with the introduction of BlackBerry by China Telecom, following the launching of iPhone and OPhone by China Unicom and China Mobile respectively," said Xiang Ligang, an independent analyst with Feixiang Interaction Culture Media.

Xiang also stated that each of the three devices have strengths and weaknesses and it remains to be seen which operator will secure the largest number of 3G subscribers as BlackBerry mainly targets business users, while the iPhone tries to impress young users with its sleak look and entertainment functions, and the OPhone has the advantage of being based on local open source software.

Prior to China Telecom, RIM also cooperated with China Mobile in launching BlackBerry devices and handset email services in China in 2008, but the results did not meet expectations as BlackBerry failed to draw in the high-end market, according to Xiang.

China Telecom has advantages in the government and corporate markets and also will have no compatibility problems as BlackBerry already uses CDMA technology in North America. Therefore, "it is a good choice for China Telecom to work together with RIM," said Xiang, adding the success of the agreement will depend on pricing and marketing.

According to local media, China Telecom plans to charge 450 yuan ($65.88) and 80 yuan ($11.71) per month for BlackBerry Enterprise Service and Push-Mail Service respectively.

But the BlackBerry may be a hard sell in China.

China Unicom sold 5,000 iPhones in the first five days after its debut October 30, far less than the 146,000 units sold in the US in the first two days of its 2007 release, partially due to the high price of the phone. The cheapest iPhone is out of the price range of most consumers at 4,999 yuan ($731.81).

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