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December 9, 2009

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3G BlackBerry to launch next year

CHINA Mobile and Research In Motion are to launch BlackBerry phones and related services based on China's 3G technology next year.

The debut of 3G BlackBerry models will compete with the iPhone 3GS which was launched by Apple Inc and its partner China Unicom in the domestic market in October.

RIM will launch BlackBerry handsets running on the China-developed TD-SCDMA (time division-synchronous code division multiple access) technology. To make phones run in China Mobile's 3G network, RIM redesigned the BlackBerry for the domestic market.

"We view China as a strategic market, the largest wireless market in the world," RIM Co-CEO Jim Basillie said.

China Mobile will provide BlackBerry services to business users and individual subscribers, of which there are more than 500 million in China, said Wang Jianzhou, chairman of China Mobile.

HK-listed China Mobile fell 0.96 percent to HK$72.35 (US$9.27), compared to a 1.18 percent decline in the Hang Seng Index yesterday.

"The smartphone sector has gained increasing prominence and has seen rapid growth through sales. Much of that growth has come from manufacturers such as Apple and RIM," said Tim Renowden, an analyst with research firm Ovum.

In the third quarter, global smartphone sales jumped 14 percent year on year to hit 41 million units, compared with a 0.1 percent annual growth in the total handset market, according to Gartner, a United States-based research firm.

After 3G licenses were issued in China in January, Chinese carriers launched smartphones in cooperation with vendors such as Apple, Nokia and HTC.

On the high-speed mobile network, users can access more data services such as film downloads and video conferencing. The network upgrade has boosted the demand for smartphones in China, analysts said.

China Telecom is also said to be in talks with RIM to offer the BlackBerry in China.



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