Research In Motion (RIM) has said it will begin selling the BlackBerry Storm via China Telecom, marking the first time the touchscreen device is available in the nation.
The smartphone will be available in 16 of the country’s 31 provinces in the near future, although no date or price was revealed.
The move is seen as a way to compete with China Unicom, which is the current exclusive carrier of the Apple iPhone in the nation. The iPhone has seen such strong sales in China that Apple says sales have risen to over $1.3 billion.
The Storm was widely criticized when it launched in the U.S. in 2008 for its awful screen design and software glitches, and RIM rushed to release the Storm 2 in 2009.
RIM has made the older BlackBerry 8700 available to corporate customers in China since 2006.
At least one analyst thinks RIM’s sales in China will be light at first, as it tries to build brand recognition: “Expectations for the BlackBerry should be kept in check, they’re coming from essentially zero market share. RIM is going to have to work very hard with their carrier partners to build the brand,” says Matt Thornton, an analyst with Avian Securities, via BW.
Result for: china telecom
According to the South China Morning Post, China Mobile is set to start selling the Apple iPhone 3G, but stripped of its 3G and Wi-Fi capabilities in order to comply with Chinese regulations.
It may not be a difference to China Mobile however, which is excited to sell the popular handset in the most populated country on the planet. The carrier says there are already 400,000 jailbroken iPhones on its network however, despite no official launch in the nation.
One of the reasons behind stripping out the 3G is that it is widely expected that the carrier will build its 3G network using the TD-SCDMA standard. Rival China Telecom is expected to use the W-CDMA standard so stripping out the 3G will make the phone less appealing to users who plan to buy it and jailbreak it for use on the rival carrier.
Researcher In-Stat says the potential market for the iPhone is about 28 million Chinese, a huge reach by any standards.