Korea to get second bite at BlackBerry

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Korea to get second bite at BlackBerry

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is in talks with a major Korean telecoms firm to relaunch its wireless email service in Korea, local newspaper reports say.

BlackBerry maker Research in Motion is in talks with a major Korean telecoms firm to relaunch its wireless email service in Korea, local newspaper reports say. 

Korea's telecoms and messaging markets are dominated by local firms and technologies, and the BlackBerry has so far failed to gain a foothold in the country.

Leading local mobile telephone operator SK Telecom could launch a BlackBerry service in Korea during the next few months, the Korea Times reported, citing an SK Telecom spokesman. 

However, SK Telecom claimed that the service would be aimed primarily at foreign business users and US forces personnel stationed in the country, rather than at Korean citizens.

Based on recent official statistics, this would suggest a total target market of fewer than 200,000 individuals.

Another local telecoms operator, KT's Powertel business communications subsidiary, rolled out a trial BlackBerry service for its customers in June 2006, but has signed up fewer than 2,000 subscribers, the Korea Times reported. 

Despite SK Telecom's involvement in negotiations to offer the service, the spokesman expressed doubts over the BlackBerry's ability to compete with existing messaging services available on mobile phones in Korea.

"Foreigners staying here and locals working for Korean affiliates of foreign outfits have requested us to introduce the BlackBerry because their global networks use the device," he told the Korea Times in an interview published on Friday.

SK Telecom claims that the BlackBerry is better able to handle email attachments than existing email software built into Korean mobile phones.

While extremely popular among corporate and enterprise customers in the US, and widely available in Europe, RIM has been slow to roll out its wireless email service in Asia.

The service has been available for several years in some parts of the region, such as Hong Kong and Singapore, and a roll out of the system was announced in Japan and China earlier this year.
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