Pelephone Drops Blackberry


Pelephone will not offer its customers Blackberry handsets for e-mail in the new future. Yaakov Gelbard, Pelephone CEO, confirmed yesterday that the cellular operator was reconsidering its intention to offer Blackberry services for economic reasons. According to Gelbard, adapting the Blackberry to send and receive Hebrew e-mail is a complicated and expensive proposition, and there are other products that offer similar services – even on Pelephone’s network.

Pelephone sells its POZ smartphone for reading and sending e-mail, and there are a number of other products in the cellular market that provide functions similar to those of Blackberry. Motorola announced last week that it intended to sell a new product by the end of the year to compete directly with Blackberry: The Query, which will be called “Q,” named after the inventor of all the amazing gadgets in the James Bond movies.

The Blackberry is a cellular device intended for e-mail use. In the past it was the only cellular device that could notify users that they had received new e-mail, and was an incredible success in the U.S. when it was first launched among businessmen, managers, technology freaks and e-mail addicts.

Two years ago the Blackberry entered European markets, and met with limited success. Only at the beginning of this year did the Blackberry’s manufacturer – Canadian RIM (Research in Motion) – accede to the requests of the Israeli cellular firms and start negotiating to introduce the Blackberry to Israel.

The first to announce Blackberry services in Israel was Partner Communications, which was allowed to use the device as part of a general agreement signed between RIM and Partner’s international parent, Hutchison Whampoa.

The Blackberry did not add a significant number of new customers to Partner, but it did improve Partner’s image as a provider of advanced services. Partner also decided to launch the service even though it had yet to solve completely the problems of “converting” the device to Israeli needs: The system allows customers to receive e-mail in Hebrew but not to send Hebrew messages.

Cellcom is also expected to launch its own Blackberry service in the next few weeks.