China Unicom the country's second-largest mobile operator introduced on Wednesday the Redberry, a push e-mail service very similar to Research in Motion's (RIM) Blackberry device.
This will put put the new service in direct competition with RIM which has announced that it is currently in talks with China Unicom's main rival, China Mobile, to launch its BlackBerry
service in China.
"With the enthusiastic support of China Unicom, Uni PushMail service has gained much momentum in China," said Tony Chan, Chief Executive of Facio Software, which designed the software.
When asked about the looming competition from Blackberry, Tony responded: " The Redberry is not afraid, neither did David fear Goliath!"
The RedBerry service allows users to send and receive e-mails containing up to 5,000 words and a 100KB attachment, the company said. The standard RedBerry package costs 62 cents per month and includes a mailbox with a 5MB capacity. Each e-mail costs 3 cents to send, and incoming e-mails are free. A deluxe account with 50MB in size costs $1.25 a month, while $3.75 a month business account has 200MB of email space. This last package allows a user to send 100 e-mails per month for free. Each additional e-mail costs 1 cent to send, and incoming e-mails are free.
Push based email is relatively new to China. RIM has expressed high hopes fort its launch in the country which is the largest telecommunications market in the world.but the new announcement will damage its prospects.RIM did not comment on the similarity between the brand names.
Singapore-based communications group SingTel and RIM also announced on Thursday the availability of the BlackBerry ConnectTM service for Palm's TreoTM 650 smartphone in the Asian Pacific area.