BANGKOK (Reuters) – Research In Motion Ltd maker of BlackBerry wireless email devices, said on Wednesday it expected to form partnerships with up to 10 Asian carriers over the next 6 months to tap strong demand.
"The market is huge. We have just started," said Norm Lo, vice president for Asia Pacific at RIM, who was in Bangkok to promote its BlackBerry services through unlisted TA Orange PCL, Thailand”s third largest mobile phone operator.
The Canadian firm enters markets worldwide by signing agreements with local wireless carriers, which then offer services using the BlackBerry name and signature PDA-like devices.
It now offers services through 16 partners in 8 Asian countries: India, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Indonesia and the Philippines.
RIM is also working with China Mobile to offer BlackBerry services in China, the world”s biggest cellular market, he said.
Its Asia expansion comes amid an aggressive worldwide campaign that saw its subscriber base rise significantly in recent years.
RIM has about 3.65 million subscribers worldwide, more than double the 1.657 million users of a year earlier, and is expected to reach 5 million at the end of the fiscal year ending February 2006, Lo said.
Nick Yoong, senior manager for corporate clients at TA Orange, said he expected to have 6,000-10,000 BlackBerry subscribers at the end of this year and another 200-300 corporate clients.
TA Orange, 83-percent owned by True Corp, Thailand”s largest private fixed line operator, has about 4 million subscribers, or 14 percent of the Thai market.
Market leader Advanced Info Service PCL plans to offer BlackBerry services later this year, the company has said.
RIM stock closed at $64.58 on Nasdaq on Tuesday. In Toronto, the stock fell C$0.48 to C$76.45.
At 0745 GMT, True shares were down 2.6 percent at 7.45 baht in Bangkok, where the overall Thai stock market was 1.3 percent lower.