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BlackBerry Seeing Red Over RedBerry

David A. Utter
Staff Writer
Published: 2006-04-12

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After some seven years of trying to enter the Chinese market, Research In Motion had to be furious to learn of China Unicom's announcement of its RedBerry service.

As one trade mission from China to the US wrapped up, and a state visit from Chinese premier Hu Jintao soon to reach American shores, much has been made of tensions over intellectual property piracy in China. US-based software and entertainment firms have been pressuring Congress via lobbyists to nudge Beijing toward a less-piracy compliant mindset.

Maybe someone from Canada's government should be invited to attend one of the state dinners honoring the Chinese visit. Then again, maybe not; President Bush would probably receive the blame if Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Peter MacKay leaped at Jintao with a caviar spoon in hand while screaming "RedBerry! I'll give you RedBerry!"

Research In Motion, based in Canada, has become a global name with the mass adoption of its BlackBerry push email devices. It has been filing paperwork and negotiating for entry into China since 1999. Most recently, it had been talking with China Mobile, China Unicom's main competitor, in an effort to get the BlackBerry into China.

Then this statement from a press release began making the rounds in places like CIO.com:

"China Unicom's RedBerry brand not only incorporates people's familiarity with the BlackBerry brand name, but it also fully embodies the symbolic meanings of China Unicom's new red logo."

Not only is it possible the push technology has been pirated, but China Unicom has hoisted the Jolly Roger and made off with the BlackBerry brand as well. That isn't the only problem. The Globe and Mail indicated just how much the prices could vary for the competing services:

In its press release, China Unicom acknowledges that BlackBerry is "the most successful application of push mail." But a standard five-megabyte e-mail account at RedBerry will cost less than a dollar a month, plus a few cents for each e-mail sent. A typical BlackBerry account in Hong Kong costs up to $64 (U.S.) per month for unlimited e-mail.

We're guessing RIM CEO Jim Balsillie isn't going to hit Lai Wah Heen at the Metropolitan for dim sum anytime soon.

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About the Author:
David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

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