BlackBerry devices launch in South Africa

Through its alliance with Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM) and Vodafone Group PLC, Vodacom Group (Pty) Ltd. launched its BlackBerry wireless solution to South Africa’s consumer and corporate markets Sunday.

BlackBerry is a mobile solution combining telephony with push e-mail, SMS, access to the Internet, as well as access to calendar, contacts and other corporate data applications in a single device, the company says. With BlackBerry, corporate and personal e-mail can be seamlessly integrated and delivered automatically to the customer’s BlackBerry device via the Vodacom GPRS network, Vodacom adds — there is said to be no need for manual dial-up to retrieve e-mail.

The user can receive, reply and forward e-mails as well as view a wide range of attachments (including Microsoft Word, Excel, PowerPoint, as well as various well-known file formats), the company says, adding that there is also no need for the individual user to subscribe to a separate Internet e-mail service to use BlackBerry.

When an individual customer purchases a BlackBerry device from Vodacom, they will receive their own individual mobile e-mail service and address. Using BlackBerry Internet Service, customers can access up to 10 corporate and/or personal e-mail accounts (including Microsoft Exchange, IBM Lotus Domino and many other ISP mail accounts) from a single device, Vodacom adds.

Corporate users can access their company’s enterprise applications, with seamless integration to corporate e-mail and, with some application integration, access back-end applications to streamline business processes and operations, Vodacom says. With the BlackBerry Enterprise Solution, the corporate user’s BlackBerry handheld is synchronized with their corporate desktop calendar function, and changes to appointments on the user’s desktop are automatically updated on the user’s BlackBerry handheld and vice versa, the company continues.

Full synchronization of e-mail, calendar and contacts in the corporate environment aims to allow the user to have the same view on their BlackBerry as on their desktop.

“BlackBerry is a mobile communications solution that continues to grow in popularity around the world, having more than two million users. BlackBerry and push-based architecture is popular with customers because it enables improved collaboration, responsiveness and productivity,” says Mark Guibert, vice-president, corporate marketing at RIM.

Says Alan Knott-Craig, Group CEO at Vodacom: “BlackBerry will revolutionize the way in which we communicate and do business, by providing customers with a robust mobile platform and a simple-to-use device that combines the efficiency and basic features of a mobile phone, with the benefits of being able to receive e-mail and attachments on the move, ultimately making our customers’ lives easier, any time, anywhere.”

Vodacom will offer customers two BlackBerry models: the BlackBerry 7290T and the BlackBerry 7100vT, both available to Vodacom through the Vodafone alliance. BlackBerry is now available locally through all Vodashops, Vodacom approved outlets and service providers.