BlackBerry is expected to shrug off ban

Steve Dinneen
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THE BlackBerry ban in the UAE is unlikely to have a major impact on the firm, according to analysts.

The row over its encryption of users data escalated yesterday, with Saudi Arabia indicating it would follow suit and block the firms Messenger, email and web browsing services.

An estimated 1.2m users – or 2.6 per cent of RIM’s user base – could be affected when the ban comes into play in October. BlackBerry’s share price dipped 1.8 per cent yesterday on the back of the news.

However, analysts yesterday played down the significance of the ban.

John Tysoe, an analyst for Mobile World, told City A.M. yesterday: “This won’t really impact on RIM. China blocking Google didn’t make much of a difference and this is in the same vain.”

Some analysts speculated the publicity surrounding the ban could actually play into BlackBerry’s hands, highlighting the security of its network. Mike Jeremy, an analyst for Daniel Stewart, said: “This will focus favourably on RIM. It shows how far they will go to protect their customer’s data. It’s important to remember this isn’t a direct attack on RIM, it’s legislating against a form of encrypted data.

“RIM’s big challenge is going to be competing with Apple and Google, this won’t be high on its agenda.”

RIM will hope the expected announcement of its new “iPhone killer” handset today will overshadow the situation in the Middle East.

The launch of the new 9800 handset has been shrouded in secrecy but is widely expected to surface this afternoon.

It is expected to feature a touch screen and slide-out keyboard. The firm hopes it will help it to compete with the iPhone and a range of phones powered by Google’s Android software.