Quick, make a list of all the reasons BlackBerry is still so big in emerging markets. High up on anyone’s list is the fact that BlackBerry devices all offer unlimited web browsing, email, and instant chat in the form of BBM for a minimal, flat fee.
The thing that allows BlackBerry to provide all of these things for a monthly flat fee is called BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS). But what if you could have all the benefits of BIS without actually having to own a BlackBerry?
Nashua Mobile, a South Africa-based independent telecommunications service provider, is hoping to do exactly that.
The company has launched a data package called Xtreme Data. It claims that for R59.00 (US$8) a month (on top of your normal monthly fees) people will be able to enjoy all the perks once restricted to BlackBerry users.
“The predictable and fixed monthly cost”, it claims, “removes the uncertainty associated with other data rate plans and eliminates the chance of ‘bill shock’.”
Although the product will be available for people using feature phones, Nashua Mobile MD Chris Radley says the product is aimed primarily at smartphone users:
“The cost of data usage has been one of the most significant barriers to wider use of smartphones for Web access and other online applications. With our new offering, we hope to make the mobile Web accessible and affordable to a wider range of smartphone users.”
The telecoms provider claims the new service works by routing data from the handset to Nashua Mobile’s shared GSM data access point names (APNs) from the mobile network operators.
Web access is controlled and managed intelligently by Nashua Mobile’s infrastructure partners, giving the customer a seamless experience that will enable all of their communication, social networking and information.
The service is initially available for a few Nokia series 40 devices and smartphones like the N8. Nashua Mobile says, however, that the service will be expanded to other phones running Symbian, Android and Windows Phone in the near future.
Is this a BlackBerry killer? Although he doesn’t mention the Canadian manufacturer explicitly, Radley certainly seems to thinks so:
“No longer will you be restricted to only one manufacturer’s handsets if you want the peace of mind of an affordable fixed rate for your smartphone data usage”.
The success of Nashua Mobile’s stab at the heart of BlackBerry’s emerging market success had better be robust. Remember last year when Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry smartphones, suffered a US$50m outage?