BlackBerry Faces Stiff Competition in India

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Although Research In Motion's BlackBerry has attracted considerable attention because of the Indian government's security concerns about its encryption of data, the device is not a runaway success in India.

India added 18 million mobile connections in June, taking the total number of subscribers to 636 million, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

But the Indian smartphone market is still quite small. About 6 percent of the 140 million mobile phones sold this year are likely to be smartphones, said Anshul Gupta , principal research analyst at Gartner.

Nokia leads the smartphone market, he added. Gupta did not have data for the share of RIM, though he estimated that it was among the top five smartphone vendors in the country.

RIM does not disclose its sales figures for India.

Corporations in India have also been slow in adopting smart phones, and even those companies that use the BlackBerry are at times facing pressure from staff who are demanding the right to choose their mobile phone brands.

IGate, an outsourcer, is planning to allow employees to choose their mobile devices for accessing mail. Currently, BlackBerry is the standard.

The adoption of enterprise mobility applications in India is taking off, leading to demand for smartphones, said Kamlesh Bhatia, a principal research analyst at Gartner. But BlackBerry will face competition in this markets even for mail applications, he added.

The initial tendency will be to standardize across one brand, as support becomes easier. But some large companies may in fact give their employees a choice of devices from two or three vendors to avoid getting locked into one vendor's technology, Bhatia added.

IBM, for example, has a list of smartphone models that its employees can purchase to access mail. The BlackBerry is one of those, but so are devices from other vendors.

The use of mobile phones in companies for e-mail and other applications is also limited to a few roles in the company, and usually includes the top executives in the company. Dell and Yahoo in India for example require employees to use the BlackBerry for official e-mail, but employees who qualify are few, and are usually those who are on the move, according to informed sources.

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