BlackBerry and the TRA kiss and make up
At the GITEX technology event, the Co-CEO of Research In Motion announces a rosy picture that will see BlackBerry and the TRA walking hand-in-hand into the sunset.
October 18, 2010 11:06 by Samuel Potter
The prospects of a BlackBerry ban in the UAE appear to have permanently receded, if a major GITEX keynote address at this year’s GITEX is anything to go by. Research In Motion, the Canadian based company behind the BlackBerry smartphone, is set to work with the UAE government on future mobile technology projects.
At a packed press conference, co-CEO of Research in Motion Jim Balsillie told the audience that the company was now actively engaged with the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to develop new applications for e-government in the UAE.
Balsillie said he was “thrilled and delighted” to be at an event that was “covered the world over.” Referring to the UAE market, he pointed out the BlackBerry is the number one smartphone in what is a “very sophisticated market.”
“I’m delighted to announce today a very special relationship with the TRA and BlackBerry, with Du and Etisalat,” he said. “We’re announcing a partnership to develop applications for e-government, specialized consumer services, as well as mobilizing enterprise services for the whole Middle East.”
He said there was a new technological innovation going on thanks to mobility and the internet, and that there is “an enormous opportunity for governments to really leapfrog to future project services.”
“There are a number of ways that you can do e-government in government surveys, government services, government applications, as well as government payments,” he said. “These kinds of government consumer and government development efforts are part of the solutions that we’re going to be working on with the TRA, with Etisalat, with Du.”
A subsequent press release called the relationship a strategic collaberation, and set out areas where the TRA and RIM would work together (you can see more of that on the next page). Balsillie explained that the kind of thing the partnership would address would be mobile payments for DEWA, for instance.
“You have a unique opportunity here,” he told the audience, “because the TRA is the regulatory authority for both mobility and for banking. So this is an exciting opportunity for you to really leapfrog and lead worldwide when it comes to secure mobile payments.”
Balsillie said that RIM were “excited to be doing this with you, with the TRA and in the UAE.”
It’s all a far cry from the TRA’s rhetoric of the past few months, during which time it threatened to shut down BlackBerry in the UAE. But the newly found special relationship is presumably a consequence of the negotiations this threat spawned, so who knows; maybe something good has come from the mess.
According to the press statement, the strategic collaboration between RIM and the TRA will support a variety of initiatives including:
Sustaining leadership through mobilisation of eGovernment services:
Mobilising Government Services: This initiative will deliver increased collaboration between the UAE Government and its residents and citizens through the BlackBerry® platform and will provide best practice eGovernment services.
Fostering the Expansion of mobile banking and commerce: The partnership will endeavour to provide citizens and residents of the Middle East a simple, secure and efficient way to carry out day-to-day financial transactions. Through the BlackBerry platform, customers will be able to access online banking services and wirelessly purchase goods or services.
Expanding the mobile applications developer community in the Middle East:
Supporting Middle East universities to further grow and sustain its mobile development skills base: A key element in enabling the region to lead in the fast growing mobile economy is through nurturing talent within the region. Through the BlackBerry Academic Program, RIM has begun to invest in this initiative with The Higher Colleges of Technology, the American University of Dubai and Al Ghurair University.
Providing wider choice of mobile applications: RIM is pleased to confirm that it will bring BlackBerry App World to customers in the Middle East. BlackBerry App World, the official on-device app store for BlackBerry smartphones, will provide customers in the Middle East with an easy way to discover, download and enjoy applications that are purposely built for BlackBerry smartphones.
Mobilising Middle East Enterprises for success:
Creating mobile advantages for large Enterprises: Organisations in the Middle East that have an on-premise email server and require a high level of IT control can take advantage of the BlackBerry Enterprise Server. It provides a secure, centrally managed link between BlackBerry smartphones and enterprise systems and applications.
Supporting growing businesses through mobilization: For smaller business, BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express offers a cost effective solution to quickly and easily get started with the BlackBerry solution. It wirelessly synchronizes Microsoft® Exchange with BlackBerry smartphones to provide advanced BlackBerry smartphone features with no software license or user fees
Chalk™ Pushcast™ Software is now available to BlackBerry Enterprise Server customers who want to wirelessly distribute rich-media content to their mobile employees. It can be used to enhance employee productivity and efficiency by remotely sharing materials for training, compliance, corporate updates, and more.
Balsallie ended by repeating that, “All the countries around the world, and all different companies, are trying to invest in the future. And from what I have seen in my travels you are very well positioned.”
Presumably it’s that kind of patter that sweet-talked the TRA.