Research In Motion has shipped the first of its BlackBerry smartphones to China and aims to start selling them later this year.
RIM said on Tuesday it struck a Chinese distribution deal with Alcatel-Lucent . The first handset to be sold under the new partnership is the 8700 model, versions of which RIM has sold globally for several years.
RIM has long recognized China's importance in its global plans and first officially announced plans to sell the BlackBerry there in May 2006.
"We look forward to building on the early interest and momentum we are experiencing in China with both multinational and domestic corporations," Jim Balsillie, RIM's co-chief executive, said in a statement.
The Waterloo, Ontario-based company already has a service partnership with China Mobile for its entry into China, where it will face competition from low-cost rivals, including a popular local service called RedBerry.