RIM has released its first BlackBerry smartphone that runs on China’s homegrown 3G standard, TD-SCDMA, a move that allow the Canadian vendor to tap into China Mobile’s 620 million 3G subscriber base.
The BlackBerry Bold 9788, which also supports WiFi connectivity and GPS for location-based applications and geo-tagging, is the newest addition to China Mobile’s BlackBerry offerings for enterprises users and professional individuals, RIM said. The company has already launched several of the smartphones since May 2008, but they only support 2G.
Katie Lee, RIM’s corporate communication director for Greater China, said the new Blackberry Bold 9788 is priced at 3,200 yuan ($500), and would be available from this month in some major cities from authorized China Mobile and RIM retailers.
China Mobile’s Beijing operation is offering the much-waited 3G Blackberry smartphone for free, if a consumer signed up for a 388 yuan monthly package for 18 months, or a 288 yuan for two years, Lee said, adding that “pricing may vary as provincial China Mobile operations may have different promotions.”
As well as China Mobile, RIM has also partnered with China Unicom and China Telecom to introduce its BlackBerry smartphones and the BlackBerry enterprise server for enterprises and BlackBerry internet service for individuals.
Lee declined to disclose the total shipment of BlackBerry smartphones in China but noted that RIM is working closely with the three mobile operators to provide more localized products, services and applications to Chinese enterprises and consumers.
In addition to RIM, China Mobile has also teamed up with other major handset makers, including Nokia, Lenovo and Dell, to develop a range of TD-SCDMA smartphones, in a bid to boost its 3G service take up.
The announcement of the launch of the Blackberry Bold 9788 lifted China Mobile shares to a two-week high, according to Bloomberg.