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India may become BlackBerry's export hub

Last updated on: March 28, 2011 14:06 IST

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After Nokia, Samsung, LG and other global brands, BlackBerry smartphones-maker Research in Motion is likely to set up an Indian manufacturing facility in view of the potential within the country and the surrounding region and may develop the country into an export hub.

"India is an important and strategic market for RIM and its exciting and fast-growing mobile sector offers major potential for further expansion.

As part of RIM's strategy in India, the company has been building its resources in order to support the growing opportunities," RIM spokesperson said when asked about plans to set up a plant here.

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Canada-based RIM's chief information officer Robin Bienfait will be in India to meet with major BlackBerry customers as well as a variety of current and prospective business partners, the company said.

"RIM is always evaluating investment opportunities, including manufacturing and logistics, and Robin plans to further explore such possibilities in India during her visit," it added.

The company, however, declined to get into the numbers of how much investment will be made for setting up a manufacturing facility and the volume of handsets to be manufactured, as well as the models.

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Image: RIM's chief information officer Robin Bienfait.

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However, going by industry norms, setting up such a plant may involve an investment of anywhere between $150-250 million to begin with.

Sources indicated that Robin would be visiting Chennai, Mumbai and Delhi to identify a location for setting up the plant.

If fructified, this would be RIM's first manufacturing facility in the Asia-Pacific region, comprising 18 countries in which BlackBerry has a presence and is growing significantly.

The development comes at a time when the company is embroiled in a controversy over security concerns about BlackBerry operations.

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The company is constant dialogue with the government and the issue of lawful interception of contents sent using smart phones like Blackberry is being looked at as an industry issue rather than an individual case.

Sources said that these two are separate issues and the company is bullish on the Indian market and neighbouring countries and India may become an export hub for BlackBerry products, which has become one of the fastest growing smartphones here.

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According to the latest reports available, RIM is one of the top five mobile phone manufacturers and as far as Indian operations are concerned, it has a retail presence in over 75 cities across the country.

Since India is very price-sensitive and a host of other global manufacturers' have a presence and enjoy cost advantages, setting up a manufacturing facility in India would certainly help BlackBerry as well with regard to the prices of its products.

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The company has not revealed details on what products/models would be made here, but already has a presence in the smart phones segment and recently launched a tablet, dubbed BlackBerry PlayBook, overseas.

The tablet would be commercially available from April and is priced from $499-$699, depending upon the storage capacity.

It is yet to be launched in India.



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