On the eve of its long-delayed China launch, BlackBerry is facing a sudden challenge from a cheaper Chinese rival called, unapologetically, RedBerry.
The new service, aimed squarely at BlackBerry, was launched this month by China Unicom Ltd., the state-controlled telecommunications giant that ranks as China’s second-biggest mobile operator.
The new RedBerry service could pose a major challenge to Research in Motion Ltd., which is planning to launch BlackBerry in China by the end of next month. Its China launch has been delayed by two years of negotiations and regulatory obstacles, and RedBerry has now been introduced ahead of it.
China Unicom left no doubt that it is brazenly attempting to capitalize on BlackBerry’s global fame.
“The RedBerry name extends the vivid name of BlackBerry that people are already familiar with, and it also combines the new red symbol of China Unicom,” the company said in a press release.
China Unicom spokesmen refused to comment yesterday on whether they expected any disputes over trademark infringement. RIM did not respond to requests for comment made through its New York-based public-relations firm.
The new China service is the same basic “push-mail” concept as BlackBerry, automatically sending e-mail to the customer’s phone whenever a new message arrives, although it does not use a proprietary handset. Instead it uses the CDMA digital cellphones that China Unicom is already marketing.
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