How big is the BlackBerry?

Does the UAE ban signal the end of a golden era for BlackBerry and RIM?

The popularity of the BlackBerry can be put down to its main selling point: the fact that it enables users to securely access their email accounts while away from their desks.

This flexibility undoubtedly made doing business in the UAE faster and more efficient, and US research firm IDC claims that more than 187,000 BlackBerry devices were sold in the Emirates last year.

The device’s popularity quickly helped BlackBerry’s Canadian owner, Research In Motion (RIM), carve out a niche for itself; it now accounts for nearly a fifth of the global smartphone market and has secured nearly half a million users in the UAE alone.

Nearly half of the 45 million BlackBerry users worldwide regularly use the BlackBerry Messenger service, a free user-to-user instant text service.

However, the UAE’s Telecoms Regulatory Authority (TRA), like many government bodies around the world, said recently that it had issues with the fact that BlackBerry data is immediately exported off-shore, where it is managed by a foreign, commercial organisation. On Sunday the TRA announced that it was banning BlackBerry Messaging, email and internet services from October 11.

This followed hot on the heels of ongoing issues RIM is also facing with authorities in India, China and other parts of the Gulf, and may help to change the global dynamic back in favour of Apple Inc.

RIM had previously taken the lead over its international rivals and in the second quarter of the year it shipped 11.2 million BlackBerry smartphones, compared to the 8.4 million iPhones sold by its California-based rival.

This helped the Canadian technology giant to increase its revenue for the second quarter of the year by 24 percent to $4.45bn.

However, these results were below analysts’ estimations and Forbes has already forecast that Apple's iPhone will overtake RIM’s BlackBerry in the global smartphone market by 2011. Already Apple stated that around 80 percent of the Fortune 100 companies were testing usage of its iPhone.

If other countries around the world decide to follow the UAE’s lead then it could signal the end of a golden era for BlackBerry and RIM. Somewhere Steve Jobs is surely smiling at the UAE announcement.

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: Susan Jones

The ban sends a very bad message about the UAE and Dubai in particular. It gives the perception that this is not a business friendly climate where even VoIP is banned all by regulated operators, ie Du and Etisalat. Its absolutely ridiculous and shows the regulator is out of touch with reality and business perception of Dubai

Posted by: Nicolas

Wonder how much this ban will affect the economy, both in terms of device sales and employee productivity! Join the petition here -

Posted by: N. Siotto

As usual the issue will be resolved with a technical solution that will accommodate RIM, users and TRA. Who speaks of censorship has his facts wrong because internet even through BB is already filtered just like any other connection, therefore the issue is only interesting the BB instant messaging and emails. Problem that has already been solved in India and most probably will be implemented over here putting at rest all this uproar which in my opinion is an overreaction.

Posted by: just wondering

isn't the issue more related to the messenger than the mail?.. messenger only works on blackberry servers and there are no 'duplicates' or copies available on some other un-encrypted server for anybody else to access mails are a 'copy' of those lying on the server of your mail provider (gmail, yahoo mail etc) the required authorities can have access to them from these servers also..... HOWEVER, the same authorities cannot have access to the "office mails"/ "office server"...and maybe this is what they want...which I am not sure conforms to teh global data protection acts......

Posted by: Bastaki

Technology needs to be resolved by counter tech solution not by stopping the services. TRA could have invested more on research and resolving the issue using technology. Banning should be the last... Anyhow, I beleive they should step back, reconsider and study this matter further.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
A natural move: How Dubai Chamber is strengthening its ties in Latin America

A natural move: How Dubai Chamber is strengthening its ties in Latin America

With vast resources and more than half-a-billion people, the...

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Raising the bar: DLA Piper plans fresh growth in the Gulf

Legal firm DLA Piper’s Middle East business recorded 10 percent...

Virtue and Vice: The world according to Shane Smith

Virtue and Vice: The world according to Shane Smith

Vice Media co-founder and chief executive Shane Smith set a new...

Most Discussed