China too cheap for BlackBerry?

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China MobileReuters is reporting that RIM’s September launch of the BlackBerry in China may be stymied by the highly price-conscious Chinese demographic. Reuters pointed to the fact that while the BlackBerry is currently retailing online for just 65 USD (roughly a fifth of its retail price in the United States), potential customers will likely balk at the 75 USD a month e-mail and data service provided by China Mobile.

Reuters also thinks that the BlackBerry’s contextually high price when compared to its RedBerry knock-off will turn many potential buyers away from getting a real BlackBerry. In 2005, China sold roughly 15 million so-called black-market phones, compared with 80 million handsets sold through licensed dealers, meaning an estimated 16% of handsets sold in China are either made by unlicensed companies or smuggled in. Not good numbers for RIM.

One thing’s for sure: in a country that doesn’t protect IP and is still learning to embrace capitalism, anything goes.

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