Tuesday, October 23, 2007

RIMM To Enter China

Nothing like having the ability to offer your phones to a billion people to juice up your stock..

Research In Motion (RIMM) said it has signed an agreement with Alcatel-Lucent (ALU.PA) to distribute the BalckBerry in China.

From the Press release:

The announcement coincides with the first shipment of smartphones to distribution networks in China and availability for Chinese enterprise customers in key markets is expected to begin later this year. Alcatel-Lucent achieved certification of the 8700 model for the Chinese market through partnership with TCL Communications, a major mobile device manufacturer in China that holds the Alcatel brand for mobile handsets. RIM and TCL Communications are showcasing BlackBerry smartphones at the PT EXPO COMM CHINA 2007 show in Beijing this week.

“This strategic partnership perfectly matches Alcatel-Lucent’s global presence and strength in the Chinese market with the global awareness and popularity of RIM’s BlackBerry brand,” said Frederic Rose, President of Alcatel Shanghai Bell and President of Alcatel-Lucent’s Asia Pacific activities. “This agreement strengthens the distribution frame agreement that Alcatel-Lucent and RIM signed last year covering Africa, the Middle East, South East Asia and now extends to China.”

“Following our launch of the BlackBerry service with China Mobile, we are very pleased to now enter this smartphone distribution agreement with Alcatel-Lucent and Alcatel Shanghai Bell. Our partnership with Alcatel-Lucent has been very productive in other regions and has been key in our progress to import smartphones into the Chinese market,” said Jim Balsillie, Co-CEO of Research In Motion. “The BlackBerry platform offers robust and unmatched benefits for enterprise customers that wish to enhance mobile productivity and competitive advantage. We look forward to building on the early interest and momentum we are experiencing in China with both multinational and domestic corporations.”

RIMM shares, up 2000% in the last 5 years spiked another 12% on the news today. The Blackbery vs iPhone battle has been the topic of much conversation the past 6 months. If you put aside the phone and their features, one has to wonder how many more iPhone would be sold if Sprint (S) or Verizon (VZ) subscribers were able to buy them like they can a Blackberry.

I know Steve Jobs held out for the best deal for Apple (AAPL) he could get when he shopped the iPhone around and tried to re-invent the cell phone paradigm but one has to wonder now of any deal he got could really be worth it. He already had to drop the price $200 far earlier than he wanted to juice sales and now word is less people are planning to switch to AT&T than 6 months before the iPhone was released. If they do not switch, they are not buying the iPhone. Could any deal he may have gotten from AT&T be better than offering the iPhone to the 100 million plus subscribers at the #2 and #3 wireless companies? I doubt it and because AT&T snagged the iPhone for the next 4 1/2 years, it will be along time before we find out.

Meanwhile Blackberry fans can get their phone from every carrier out there...

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