By Anthony DiPaola, Hugo Miller and Vivian Salama
Aug. 2 (Bloomberg) — Research In Motion Ltd., maker of the BlackBerry smartphone, faces challenges to overseas expansion as developing countries tighten restrictions on mobile e-mail.
The United Arab Emirates, home to Middle East business hub Dubai, said yesterday it may suspend BlackBerry e-mail services in October because of concern the devices could be used in crimes. The move comes days after an official in India said that country may ban BlackBerry e-mail use and reports that Saudi Arabia could take similar steps.
“It’s a reflection of fears of cyber security and espionage that now extend to mobile phones,” said Ron Deibert, director of the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, who helped colleagues uncover a plot against the Indian government that involved computers in China. “It’s the type of thing that will become more common for RIM as they grapple with public policy and ethical issues in emerging markets.”
RIM, based in Waterloo, Ontario, is focusing on countries including India, the U.A.E., Indonesia and Brazil as a decade of North American expansion slows. Revenue from outside North America and the U.K. nearly doubled last quarter as U.S. sales, which account for a quarter of revenue, dropped 7 percent.
For RIM, the pioneer in handheld e-mail devices, security is one of the main advantages it touts over competitors. All BlackBerry e-mails are handled by the company’s own enterprise servers, making the devices popular with companies and government officials including Barack Obama, who kept his BlackBerry after becoming U.S. president. Sigue leyendo