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BlackBerry maker keen on local unit

Calcutta, Feb. 10: Research In Motion — the maker of BlackBerry handsets — is exploring the possibility of setting up its Asia-Pacific manufacturing hub in India.

The Canada-based designer and manufacturer of wireless solutions for mobile communication has almost doubled its global business every year. Growth in the Asia-Pacific region has been on a par with global growth.

According to Norm W.K. Lo, vice-president (Asia Pacfic) of Research In Motion HK Ltd, “India is a very important market for us and we have a long-term view of it. Our growth in India and the Asia-Pacific region as a whole is making us explore the possibilities of setting up a manufacturing hub in this part of the world.

He said Research In Motion was yet to firm up its plans, adding that the company was looking at both India and China as the site for the proposed manufacturing hub in the Asia Pacific.

India is emerging as an export hub for mobile phones, with potential to manufacture around 10 per cent of the global output.

The Indian Cellular Association expects the country to produce 30 million handsets annually by 2009.

At present, leading handset makers such as Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and LG have manufacturing facilities in India, while China’s ZTE is looking to set up a plant in the country.

Research In Motion, with a global turnover of around $5-6 billion, has manufacturing units in Ontario, Canada, and Mexico in Latin America.

Lo said the company was also open to the idea of an R&D centre in India because of the presence of skilled personnel in IT and engineering services.

The company operates through telecom partners called carriers.

In India, it has four partners — Bharti Airtel, Vodafone Essar, Idea and BPL Mobile. It has one carrier partner in China, three each in Singapore and Australia and five in Hong Kong.

“This shows the importance we attach to the Indian market. In the next few months, we will launch applications to support our handsets. BlackBerry is not merely a handset maker but an end-to end solution provider,” Loo said.

He said Research In Motion was also working with local companies to develop software applications specific to the Indian market. “We want to create a complete ecosystem of our carriers and partners in software development.”

In India, the prices of BlackBerry handsets range from Rs 10,000 to Rs 30,000.

The monthly rental package varies between Rs 249 and Rs 900, depending on the operator.

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