BlackBerry phones will be available on the Chinese mainland for the first time by the end of first quarter, said the country's major distributor China Mobile yesterday, which halted talks with Apple to introduce iPhone into China.
The first model offered to Chinese customers will be BlackBerry 8700 and it will be available for business use, but not to personal users, according to an official at China Mobile's Shanghai branch data service division.
"We will provide the handset in the first quarter and bundle its e-mail services with our own services," the spokesman told Shanghai Daily.
Clients who sign long-term contracts with China Mobile will get discounts on the BlackBerry phones, according to Wang.
Shanghai Mobile charges 398 yuan (US$54.5) to 598 yuan a month for the BlackBerry services, which allow users to access e-mail, the Internet, phone calls and corporate data.
No BlackBerry phones have been sold officially on the Chinese mainland, though BlackBerry devices are widely available on the black market, such as the one near Shanghai Railway Station.
It will be the first time the popular e-mail phone comes into the world's top telecoms arena, though a year later than the original schedule of Research in Motion Ltd (RIM), the BlackBerry's developer.
"As our partner, China Mobile will decide on the market strategy and pricing in the domestic market," said RIM spokeswoman Katie Lee.
In the global market, RIM and carriers often put the carriers' logo and application on the BlackBerry devices.
(Shanghai Daily January 17, 2008)