The latest development in the telecom world will certainly be good news for United Arab Emirates citizens. Reports are suggesting that BlackBerry will soon sign an agreement to start Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services across UAE. This agreement is to be signed with all the telecom operators of the region. UAE is a growing market for BB. BlackBerry was gracious enough to launch the BB10 devices there before it did in many other key markets. It just goes to show that BB expects a lot in return from the Gulf country.
However, the Middle East has placed many prohibitions on Blackberry. This is mainly because of the monopoly of telecom carriers in the region. They receive high revenue from people calling home. That is to say, they juice out the emigrant population. And with the launch of VoIP services, everything will change. In the meantime, BlackBerry is getting its video services based on internet tested by DU – the Dubai based operator. It plans to launch VoIP in a few months over there.
The problem with VoIP is its flat rate across all countries. The rates of voice calls vary from country to country and that too drastically! However, to use VoIP, a customer only has to purchase a data plan. This will enable him to talk to anyone in any country. So he only has to pay a fixed amount and can enjoy superior quality services. This, however, is not good for business. According to a report, VoIP may cause loss in profits to the tune of US $479 billion over the next seven years. This will be shared by the global telecom industry.
BlackBerry’s flagship feature has always been the BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). With a subscriber base of 80 million and counting, it is a pretty solid situation for BlackBerry. The quick and free message service was one of the first to enter this area. And with the launch of its BB10 devices, BlackBerry has integrated video chat in BBM as well. However, it is still only available over Wi-Fi.
If BB succeeds in signing the agreement with UAE, it might curtail down Samsung and Apple’s grip over the market. This is because Apple’s Face Time is currently banned in UAE by the telecom operators. It will give BB a niche above everyone in the market. However, the government will also be aware that allowing such a decision can go wrong too. It can hamper the growth of UAE’s domestic operators. Their main revenue is from international calls. VoIP may kill their business.
But, UAE is a very big market for BlackBerry. The Z10 has already been well accepted there. Several Z10 phones have been sold out and more devices are being shipped to the country. It might just be a link in the chain which holds together BlackBerry in this fierce market.
Competition is pretty tough and BB is going for the kill. It is leaving no stone unturned to please the consumers’ appetite. Such enthusiasm on the part of the company will certainly not go waste.
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