Hey Shanghaiist, I’m considering getting a BlackBerry if/when China Mobile launches push email in Shanghai. But what’s this RedBerry thing I’ve been hearing lately? Should I get that instead? — John, Shanghai
Hello John, we had never heard of the RedBerry either until very recently. Supposedly, both services (BlackBerry and RedBerry) will launch in the late May/early June period. Put aside how one might feel about the whole “copycatting” issue for a second (though strongly it may be), price and service are two obvious metrics to use when choosing a carrier.
BlackBerry (China Mobile):
What hasn’t been said about the “CrackBerry”? Service is obviously second to none.
China Mobile hasn’t told us how much a monthly plan would cost. Also, bear in mind, because RIM’s technology is proprietary, you must have a separate BlackBerry QWERTY device. How much does it cost and who pays for it should also figure prominently into your decision.
RedBerry (China Unicom):
The technology behind the RedBerry comes from a Chinese firm in Beijing. Its CEO is a Microsoft alum and has worked at several other smaller tech outfits in the US. We know nothing about the platform’s usability and stability.
China Unicom has announced three separate monthly plans for its RedBerry service. We learned this from Computerworld:
The RedBerry service allows users to send and receive emails containing up to 5,000 words and a 100K-byte attachment, the company says. The standard RedBerry package costs 5 renminbi (US$0.62) per month and includes a mailbox with a 5M-byte capacity. Each email costs 0.30 renminbi to send, while incoming emails are free.
There are two other packages available, including the high-end business package, which costs 30 renminbi per month and includes a mailbox with a 200M-byte capacity. This package allows a user to send 100 emails per month for free, with each additional email costing 0.10 renminbi to send. Incoming emails are free.
Very affordable, indeed. Further, from this article on ZDnet, China Unicom will have handsets ready from Motorola, Samsung, Nokia and LG with built-in RedBerry functionality. In other words, you don’t have to carry an extra gadget around in addition to your cellphone.
Of course, value is irrelevant if the service sucks. We think the best bet is to hold off on your purchase for a while and let the reviews come in first. But at this point, it looks as if RIM has a tough fight on its hands. Stay tuned …
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