Blackberry targets youth subscribers with lower subscription fees

Written by Rachana Khanzode | Mumbai | Updated: Apr 7 2009, 05:11am hrs
After targeting the niche high-end subscriber base, Research in Motions (RIM) BlackBerry is now trying to make further inroads into the Indian market. It is now targeting the youth, SME entrepreneurs and self-employed individuals with unlimited free email and instant messaging via its BlackBerry Internet services (BIS).

Besides, facilitating this service on the BlackBerry smart phones, it would also bring it to BlackBerry Connect users on the other smart phones by Nokia (E 61/62), Sony Ericsson and Asus. Satchit Gayakwad, RIM, India, said, BlackBerry, which is now available with almost eight service providers, will bring these services with Vodafone and Bharti Airtel to start with.

The duo will be charging the subscribers a monthly rental of Rs 299 in lieu of free unlimited email and instant messaging. Under the corporate plans on BlackBerry smart phones, where subscribers can browse Internet as well, service providers charge as high as Rs 899 as monthly rental. Manu Talwar, CEO, mobile services, Maharashtra & Goa, Bharti Airtel, said, With the BlackBerry Personal Mail service plan at only Rs. 299, we are extending the market to a wider segment, allowing customers such as young professionals, small business owners and students to access their email on the move and stay connected with instant messaging on their BlackBerry smart phones. Vodafone, that launched these services a month ago, had similar views. Other service providers like Reliance Communication, Idea Cellular, Loop Mobile and Tata Teleservices, who provide BlackBerry services, might offer similar plans.

Dipesh Mohile, a senior analyst with Tonsetelecom, says, India being a price driven market, we might see some shift but the handset will still cost a bit. The move comes in times when corporates, where the product is largely targeted at, are keenly looking at cutting discretionary spending. A price reduction could also be a move to keep the existing customers intact and as well explore if the youth bites the bet.

BlackBerry offers models ranging from Rs 14,800 for basic handsets to Rs 34,000 for high end smart phones. Interestingly, BlackBerry picked up the touch screen market too with the launch of BlackBerry Strom (in January this year), an area where it was threatened by the launch of Apples iPhone (in Aug 2008) in India. It also launched Blackberry curve series 8900 and Pearl Filp in January.