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Wed 30 Jan 2013 11:51 AM

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BlackBerry 10 faces service ban in UAE amid launch

Latest smartphone could launch without BlackBerry Messenger Voice service, says report

BlackBerry 10 faces service ban in UAE amid launch
(Getty Images)

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry device, may be forced to launch the latest version of its smartphone in the UAE without a key feature, as talks with operators continue ahead of a global launch, according to a report on Wednesday.

The new BlackBerry Messenger Voice (BBMV) allows customers to make free phone calls over Wi-Fi and is a key feature of the new BlackBerry 10 device being launched in Dubai on Wednesday evening, part of a global launch across six major cities across the world.

A report in the Wall Street Journal said RIM was talks with UAE operators du and Etisalat over concerns BBMV will impact revenue streams. RIM is also in talks with the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which has apparently encouraged operators to allow the service to be activated.

"We would not want the UAE to be seen as a restrictive case," an unnamed senior TRA official was quoted as saying by the newspaper.

A RIM statement said the company will “continue to work closely with our partners in the United Arab Emirates to bring BlackBerry services to our customers".

"We undertake rigorous due diligence with all BlackBerry product and service launches to guarantee the functionality, features and rich user experience that our customers have come to expect, while ensuring that they comply with the regulatory framework of the countries within which we operate," RIM added, but declined to confirm whether BBMV will be available when sold to customers after the launch in Dubai.

Skype, a service which allows users to make phone calls via the internet, is also partially blocked by operators in the UAE.

RIM reported a narrower-than-expected loss in financial results posted in September 2012. A one-time smartphone pioneer, RIM has failed to keep pace with rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics, and its stock price has tumbled about 70 percent over the past year while its market share shriveled.

In July last year, BlackBerry services in the UAE faced severe disruption, with users for a time losing access to messaging and email as RIM's network grappled with technical challenges. In October 2011, users in the Middle East, Europe, India and Africa were hit by three days of downtime in another case of technical failure.

Shipments of BlackBerry smartphones were 7.4m in the third quarter, outpacing Wall Street's expectation of about 6.9m.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company reported a net loss of US$235m compared with a profit of US$329m in the same period a year earlier.

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Sarvar 7 years ago

I do not understand one thing: besides BBMV (which is the main reason of its ban in the UAE) there are many other unbanned applications in the UAE that allow making a voice call over internet, provided if both caller and receiver have the same app in their smartphones and are connected to the internet via WiFi, 3G/4G, etc... Those apps are Yahoo messenger, Google talk, etc...
What makes BBMV different than those above mentioned apps?

abc 7 years ago

If the TRA allows this product it must agree to unblock Skype - the Telecoms Law does not allow it to discriminate for and against particular products and services.

RBH 7 years ago

Man, these guys are just too paranoid about losing money... All they want to make is money and nothing else. They care less about technology or customer satisfaction.

Doug 7 years ago

"RIM was talks with UAE operators du and Etisalat over concerns BBMV will impact revenue streams."

In other words, the two telcos in the UAE (who are technically the same company anyway) think they won't be able to make as much money so they're using the law to protect their own business interests.

balij 7 years ago

This is the the Last shot from RIMM'S GUN in order to sustain in today's competitive market of smart phone. If Blackberry 10 fails to live up to the expectations then I am afraid it is bye bye for Blackberry. I heard that Blackberry launch delayed a little bit in USA



Hisham 7 years ago

I didn't expect to get a "wow factor" from the BB10 launch. It's a company that cannot break free from playing catch-up. They should sell their patents and go focus on that other great Canadian product: maple syrup. All the fuss about BBMV. Why? Skype has been active on iPhone for ages, and not only through wi-fi, also on 3G. So besides that, where is the buying reason? We already know the device will start giving problems within maximum 6 months, a battery pull will be business as usual and (just like the PlayBook) the product will be dead and obsolete before it's even launched.

steve 7 years ago

Hisham: Do you work for Apple?? You must. BB has lost its appeal, no question but based on the few news reports I have seen, they might be on a nice rebound. I just don't understand why people like to bash products before they have been proven or disproven. I still use BB for international phone and email and find it secure and reliable. I have friends who use the newest smart phones and they are happy as well. I am sure any smart phone you buy today will do what you need it to do.

Hisham 7 years ago

I don't really see the connection between my personal achievements, and my right as a consumer to demand a good product, so that question is a bit misplaced. Should the FAA applause Boeing's achievement of building a faulty 787 on the basis that the members of the FAA council did not achieve building an aircraft? Didn't think so!

Now, you might be one of the lucky ones, as everyone who has ever had a BB and asked anyone friend who owned one about a certain problem they faced with their BB, the standard "solution" proposed would be a battery pull. Perhaps they hand picked you and made you a perfect one sprayed with fairy dust?

As for being a serious player in the enterprise market, that was before Apple had ever made a phone. As soon as the iPhone came out (and Android is of course a copy of it), each and every BB became obsolete. As for your unhappiness, don't really have an answer to that...

Justin 7 years ago

@ Hisham: You talk about demanding a good product and still you are talking about Apple?! Seriously? Apple has had good products, but innovations stopped at the iphone3. After that it has been milking the cow till the cow is dry and dead (and still people keep buying it, because they think it's premium like an Audi). iPhone5 screen is called Panorama screen (don't make me laugh, it does not even has fullHD like competition) and the notification bar is a straight copy from Android OS. Android OS and Windows OS are the innovaters now, it's IOS that lags behind, keeps copying and suing. All profit comes from the ipad while Android has overtaken IOS by far now.

Hisham 7 years ago

@Justin quality is not necessarily determined by innovation. For example, I own a classic pristine condition Mercedes from the 60's. I can assure you two things: 1. it's a quality product 2. it's heavily outdated and currently not very innovative. Doesn't even have head rests! Android is bigger, true. Just like there are more Nissan Tida's in the UAE than Audi RS8s. Does that also mean the Tida is more innovative and qualitative? 1.5 kg of brain mass. Use it to the fullest :)