By Shane McGinley
Canadian maker Research In Motion (RIM) warns customers over copycat handsets
Research In Motion has warned customers to be alert after it
emerged fake models of its BlackBerry 9900 smartphone are on sale in Dubai
ahead of the handset’s launch later this month.
Pictures of the fake handset have emerged on BlackBerry fan
site, CrackBerry,com, where users reported the device was on sale for $100 in
shopping mall DragonMart.
The website also featured a link to Dubai-based listings
website Dubizzle, where a reader claimed a version of the 9900 was on sale for
$1,370 “on the grey market”.
Canada-based RIM said it was aware of the copycat devices in
circulation in the UAE and warned customers the devices may feature fake parts.
The phone is expected to launch later this month under UAE telco Etisalat.
“[The handsets] may be subject to PIN theft, IMEI theft and
identity theft,” said Sandeep Saihgal, managing director for RIM Middle East, in
Dubai government inspectors in
March fined 113 stores at DragonMart a total of AED 100,000 for violations of
anti-counterfeiting laws. One raid against vendors in the shopping mall
resulted in 2,500 fake items being seized.
RIM is hoping the 9900 touchscreen phone will help it draw
market share from Apple and Android-powered devices, which have squeezed sales
of its own ageing phones in the key US market.
The BlackBerry Bold 9990 is specifically geared towards the business
market, and is expected to become available worldwide this summer.
RIM last year narrowly missed having its BlackBerry
smartphones banned in the UAE and Saudi Arabia last year after its encryption
technology raised concerns the phones could be used for terrorist attacks or
other illegal activities.
In April, the UAE said it may look to restrict access to the
highly secure Blackberry Enterprise Server, a system used by many international
firms active in the Gulf state.
There are more than one million BlackBerry customers in the
UAE and Saudi Arabia.