Research In Motion has begun a drive to sell BlackBerry devices into new markets with an agreement with NTT DoCoMo to market the phones to corporate users in Japan and a deal to reach beyond company executives and sell to affluent consumers in the US.
Research in Motion has begun expanding into new markets in the US and Japan.
Both deals are significant because RIM has faced sniping by Wall Street analysts that its core market has become saturated and it will face increasing competition from push email offerings from a growing number of competitors.
RIM would not be drawn on what sales it expects in Japan but Tokyo is the one major world financial and investment center where it is unrepresented. DoCoMo, which has 51 million subscribers, said the devices to be sold in Japan would operate on both UMTS and GSM/GPRS networks.
Given the extensive contact and often interchange of staff in the financial centers of New York, London, Frankfurt and Tokyo, it has been a source of irritation that Japan has been the one country where an operator has been unable to offer a BlackBerry service.
In the US, RIM said that Cingular Wireless would sell its new low-end 7130 devices in a service offering designed to appeal to on-the-go individuals at consumer friendly prices.
Although it has announced similar deals with smaller operators such as Telefonica subsidiary O2 in the UK, the muscle of the US’s largest operator will be behind its drive to tap a new market far bigger than its traditional user base of Armani-suited bankers.
Under its personal plan, Cingular will offer customers access to their internet email accounts for $29.99 per month. The EDGE-enabled BlackBerry 7130 handset will be sold for $199.99. Cingular is aiming the service at young professionals who need to stay in touch and parents who spend their days juggling work and family activities.
With revenue 53% higher at $2 billion last year, RIM has just emerged from under a cloud after it agreed to pay $612.5 million to settle all patent litigation with NTP in March. Now with observers looking to see whether its astonishing growth will start to fade, with the Cingular deal, RIM can at least look forward to the arrival of revenue from new markets.