Established in 1976, Emirates Telecommunications Corporation – Etisalat – is known as an innovative and reliable provider of telecommunications, Internet and related services in the UAE. The Corporation is ranked by Financial Times as one of the Top 500 companies in the world in terms of market capitalization, and the sixth largest in the Middle East. Business units and subsidiary companies provide Etisalat and clients with a whole range of services including voice, data, satellite, Internet, IT solutions and consulting, smart card manufacture, data clearing, submarine cables laying and maintenance and related telecommunications services. Etisalat serves over 4.76 mobile customers in the UAE, a penetration rate of over 100 per cent. In 2005, Etisalat announced revenues of AED 12.9bn, and net profits of AED 4.3bn. ((http://www.blackberry.com/news/press/2006/pr-15_05_2006-02.shtml – accessed 4/12/07))
In 1982, Etisalat was the first telecom operator in the region to introduce a mobile phone service, and was one of the early adopters of GSM technology, introducing it to customers in 1994. Since then it has established itself as a regional pioneer by introducing both 3G and MMS in 2003, and most recently, the BlackBerry service in 2006. The Blackberry device was launched in 1999 by a Canadian company – RIM (Research in Motion) to provide wireless information services such as push e-mail, mobile telephone and text messaging services and web browsing. The distinctive function that the Blackberry service offers is push email capabilities along with its QWERTY keyboard and ‘thumbwheel’ browsing interface.
The Blackberry service was introduced in the UAE in May 2006 (http://www.blackberry.com/news/press/2006/pr-15_05_2006-02.shtml – accessed 4/12/07) becoming the first service provider to launch the service in the Middle East and Gulf Region. With the help of Emitac Mobile Solutions EMS, the RIM strategic channel partner, the Blackberry service was rolled out on the Etisalat network in the UAE allowing all Etisalat subscribers to subscribe to both flavours of the Blackberry service. Blackberry devices are also sold at Etisalat counters and Business centres as part of the agreement and package.
Etisalat has a strong presence and coverage within the UAE therefore is able to capitalise on this and cater to all market segments for this service. The Blackberry service is targeted to both the corporate and consumer segment in the 2 service options it provides. i. Enterprise Customers: The Enterprise segment here is defined as regular business users who need to be constantly in touch with their business whether by email, fax, internet or phone. The Blackberry Enterprise Service – BES is designed to allow a corporation to connect to all Blackberry devices and use their existing email server infrastructure to push email to all corporate devices. This allows managers and executives to stay connected to their business environment 24×7 and in real-time.
Additionally, the BES service can be customised to carry and deliver Enterprise Data over the Etisalat GPRS network by enabling enterprise applications such as CRM, SFA etc. The ability to roam the service across various global providers also makes this service a primary asset in an enterprise organisation. Technology integration and rollout of these installations can be done cost effectively by using EMS, the appointed RIM technology partner locally.
SME and Consumers: With RIM constantly developing and launching variations of Blackberry devices, the small business segment is also a feasible option to consider. Customers in this segment prefer to focus on the device capabilities rather than the service itself and are primarily concerned about speed and cost effectiveness of the chosen hand held device. For this segment, Blackberry has developed the Blackberry Internet Solution – BIS, which allows Blackberry handset owners, the ability to wirelessly access the Internet. The main focus of the solution in this case is to provide personal portability and leverage on the push-mail functionality for personal email.
This is an ideal solution for small businesses, as it involves almost no start-up costs but gives you similar functionality in the applications you can run. A certain segment of consumers also find the Blackberry device as a status symbol regardless of what services it is running. Therefore, common features such as email, sms, mms, camera, etc are primary consideration for this segment.
Basically any PDA device can be considered as Blackberry’s competitor , below is some of the biggest name in PDA devices : a) Palm Treo 500 V Palms is one of the devices that has been targeting the same segment of the market that Blackberry does . The device runs window 6 and offers 3G connectivity . There is also a strong focus on pre-installed applications such as Google Maps , a mobile eBay and instant messaging via Microsoft live .Palm supports most of the email accounts software such as Outlook and Lotus Notes . The device also has additional features such as Camera and Arabic Keyboard .(3)
b) HP ipaq hw 6925 The ipaq is a windows Mobile 5 pocket pc phone edition device that marries a PDA with a GSM mobile phone .It has EDGE and GPRS for wide area data and WiFi for use with hotspots , home and work wireless local area networks. The mobile messenger has Bluetooth and camera with flash . It is not easy to find a smart phone with integrated GPS but ipaq has one . The ipaq runs windows mobile 5.1 with support for push email . HP also includes a link to get Good , which is another popular push email solution. (4)
c) Nokia e90 communicator mobile phone Nokia has announced the e sreries mobile phones on Feb, 2007 that blur the lines between business and lifestyle use . The e 90 is the company’s latest version of communicator handset that has been around in different forms for a fare few years. The handset is a bit big but the features justify the size . A 3.2 megapixel camera , GPS receiver , 512 MB mMicro SD , two colour screen , 3G , Wi-Fi , HSDPA .The keyboard is probably one of the best and very easy to use .Email is incredibly easy to use backing up Andrew Hawking’s , head of e series in UK , statement that Nokia wants ” to make email as easy to use as voice ” .The emails system supports all types of services from Balckberry to POP3 .Although , the Nokia e90 is a phone , it should be seen as a miniature laptop with phone built in . (5)
d) Apple iPhone Apple iPhone was launched in July 2007 . The new mobile phone from Apple is a thing of beauty . Apple has created a device that many will lust after .There is no doubt that the iPhone will change the industry’s approach to how users interact with their mobile for the better .The advantages of the iPhone are the large crisp bright touch screen , the 8 GB hard drive for MP3 tracks and movies , the Wi – Fi connectivity and the software interaction including YouTube , Google maps and Apple’s Safari internet browser .However , there is no 3G connectivity and against Blackberry 8800 you don’t get the same email satisfaction . (6)