Monday 14 January 2013

Aircel will launch BlackBerry 10 in India

Aircel has confirmed that it will launch BlackBerry 10 in India when the smartphones are available in India, which should be a few weeks after the global launch scheduled for January 30.

We contacted various Indian telecom operators on their plans to launch BlackBerry 10 (BB10) in India and while Aircel has confirmed that it will launch BlackBerry 10, Vodafone has said it will make an announcement only after the global launch; Airtel and Tata Docomo had not reverted at the time of writing this.

Idea and Reliance GSM were the only operators who said they have no plans to launch BlackBerry 10 devices. Given Vodafone's strong ties with BlackBerry globally, it would be very unlikely that it would not launch BlackBerry 10.

Operator support is critical for any user who wants to use BlackBerry smartphones because in the absence of a BlackBerry data plan, a BlackBerry smartphone can be used only for voice calls and text messages. Unlike Android smartphones that need only a regular data package, BlackBerry smartphones require a dedicated BlackBerry data plan--BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS) for consumers and BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) for organisations.

With BIS, the server is managed by the telecom operator, while in the case of BES, the server is located within the organisation and is far more secure. While RIM recently announced that Indian operators were in compliance with Indian government regulations regarding real-time interception of BlackBerry smartphones, RIM delivered a solution that enabled Indian operators to address their lawful access requirements for RIM's consumer messaging services, which include BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) and BIS e-mail. RIM underscored the fact that this enablement of lawful access did not extend to BES.

While there has been a lot of debate on whether BlackBerry10 devices would require a BIS or BES plan or whether a regular data plan would do, especially since the BB10 Dev Alpha devices handed out by RIM to developers worked on regular data plans, the company did confirm late in 2012 that a BlackBerry plan would be necessary for BlackBerry10. However, since BB10 would support for ActiveSync for corporate e-mail, there is still speculation on whether RIM will allow e-mail without RIM's security services etc. on just a regular data plan.

A RIM India spokesperson said that the company could not provide specific answers at the moment. All he would say was that "BB10 device users can integrate to their corporate email using options of ActiveSync, BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES10-standard policy), or BlackBerry Enterprise Service (BES10 - Advanced Policy) options. Given different MDM capabilities of each, these are likely to have different data plans, details of which are being worked out with the respective Carriers. Whilst the commercial details with the carriers cannot be shared as yet, we will have an exciting range of tiered pricing options for our customers, enabling them to benefit from the full features and power of BB services. Details will be shared soon."

Local applications should also play a key part in the BB10 launch. While operators and RIM are tight-lipped on the details, the RIM India spokesperson said that many of the top news and media, music, videos and lifestyle brands are preparing to launch applications on BB10. "Numbers are not a focus here, the experience of apps integrating with the BlackBerry 10 user experience will deliver value to customer," he explained.

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