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Research in Motion sets sights on China

08 декабря 2009

Research in Motion is launching a push to market its BlackBerry smartphones to millions of individual users in China with two new distribution deals in the largest mobile market by subscribers.

The Canadian company on Monday announced a distribution agreement with Digital China, the country’s leading IT distributor.

RIM has also scheduled a joint announcement with China Mobile, the country’s leading mobile operator, for Tuesday.

The deals come as RIM faces increasing competition in the market for expensive handsets, including from the growing availability of a “push” e-mail function which was once its exclusive niche.

The success of the iPhone has squeezed the BlackBerry. Other smartphone vendors such as Palm and HTC also have products offering push e-mail.

In addition, traditional handset makers including Nokia and Motorola have expanded into the smartphone market, and personal computer makers including Acer, Dell and Lenovo now sell smartphones.

An executive at a foreign PC company in China said: “That means that when we are talking about smartphones, we are now talking about a consumer product, a mass market”.

Competition among smartphones in China has intensified as the country’s three mobile carriers fight over subscribers after an industry restructuring and the issue of third-generation (3G) licences earlier this year.

In September, China Mobile launched the OPhone, its own version of an Android phone, with different versions made by Lenovo Mobile, and Dell.

China Unicom, the country’s second-largest mobile operator, then launched the first legal distribution of the iPhone in China.

The BlackBerry is already available in China for subscribers of China Mobile and China Telecom, the smallest operator, but take-up has been overwhelmingly among corporate clients.

Analysts said that the Digital China deal was an important shift, allowing RIM to expand beyond its traditional corporate niche in China to the broader consumer market.

Flora Wu, an analyst at BDA telecoms consultancy in Beijing, said: “This is a significant step for RIM to tap into the individual client market, leveraging Digital China’s distribution network and expertise,”.

Digital China is a sister company of Lenovo, the fourth-largest PC maker.

RIM is on Tuesday also expected to expand its co-operation with China Mobile from corporate clients to individuals.

Ms Wu said: “I think RIM is positioned to meet pent-up demand,resulting from China Mobile’s high tariffs and old devices, by working with more operators and enlarging co-operation with China Mobile,”

Источник: Financial Times

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