More than 50% of BlackBerry users to ditch Etisalat - poll

Arabian Business poll reveals customers' anger over spyware allegations.
By Elsa Baxter
Thu 23 Jul 2009 11:40 AM

More than half of Etisalat’s BlackBerry customers are planning to ditch the UAE telecoms provider in the wake of the spyware scandal, according to online poll for Arabian Business.

The UAE firm is facing intense criticism following allegations it deliberately infected customers’ handsets with software to spy on peoples’ emails and texts.

Some 36 percent of BlackBerry users who took part in the online poll said they will cancel their Etisalat contract “immediately” and switch to rival telecoms provider du.

A further 18.7 percent said the controversy had put them off using their BlackBerry handset altogether.

However, 14.7 percent of respondents said they would do nothing about it, and 30.7 percent said they would wait for more information before making their mind up as to what to do.

BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) issued a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday claiming the Etisalat patch was spyware.

RIM stated: “Independent sources have concluded that the Etisalat update is not designed to improve performance of your BlackBerry, but rather to send received messages back to a central server."

Etisalat said the Java-based software was a “performance enhancement patch” designed to aid 2G to 3G handovers. The firm has so far refused to comment about the allegations.Etisalat stopped issuing the patch after it was found to greatly reduced the battery life of devices.

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