International wireless solutions manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) announced a new flavour in their BlackBerry line.
RIM Asia Pacific vice president Patrick Spence said aside from solutions for enterprises, they are now targeting the professional and SME market in Australia.
"When we first started out, 60 percent of the calls we got were actually from the professional sector but we didn't have the service for them at that point. This market was the key driver in our growth in North America, and here in Australia, Telstra and Vodafone are now focusing on that area," Spence said.
Vodafone recently launched its BlackBerry solution with a customised user interface to fit Vodafone's Live! theme. Optus is also gearing up to join the BlackBerry market in the next couple of months.
Spence believes the Australian market is big enough for three players, giving consumers more options for pricing and services.
He added that they've been getting suggestions from customers about integrating Pocket PC-based devices with the BlackBerry solution. Spence said they are now talking with major phone companies Samsung, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, HTC, Nokia and Siemens, as well as OS groups Pocket PC, Symbian and Palm about the convergence of their services.
"It's all about the application and we try to keep it as simple as possible. Some of these companies are Palm- or Microsoft-focused but the great news is that now BlackBerry is coming into that and opening the doors to huge opportunities," Spence said.
Spence revealed that Australia will be seeing the Pocket PC version of the BlackBerry solution by the end of this year. He said they are also hoping to deliver four to six versions in that time.
However, even with the integration into other handhelds, Spence said they will not stop manufacturing their own hardware.
"This doesn't mean we stop the hardware business but we will continue to push down the path to new handhelds. We've been very data centric in our handhelds and we believe we have the winning format for the data area. But for those who are voice centric, then they can use the Nokia 6820. It's really about expansion and the customer's choice," Spence said.
Telstra is finalising its pricing for BlackBerry solution for the professional market. Spence said it will generally be the less expensive option compared to the enterprise market. Operators are also looking at combining a voice and data package which will be coming out in the next few months.
"We've only scratched the surface at this point and we are working towards establishing the market here in Australia. The Australian market is continuously growing and it doesn't matter even if there are three operators for BlackBerry. People are willing to pay for the service and more people are just starting to discover its benefits," he said.