War with China Update:
Chinese "capitalism", isn't
The ploy of exploiting BlackBerry's brand recognition is all the more bizarre — RIM's chief executive called it "weird" in an interview — because of the two companies involved. One, not so surprisingly, is a pugnacious start-up. But the other is China Unicom Ltd., whose majority owner is none other than the Chinese government.
There's another odd wrinkle. There are only two big cell phone companies serving China, both of them state-controlled but publicly traded. China Unicom is the wireless carrier offering "Uni PushMail," the new BlackBerry-like mobile e-mail service. The other carrier, China Mobile Ltd., just happens to be RIM's partner in bringing the BlackBerry to China.
To review, then, one state-controlled company is angling to get a few months head start on another state-run company by playing on the name recognition of BlackBerry. On one level, this might sound impressive since the two rivals appear to be competing as you'd hope they would in a free market. But the obvious infringement on BlackBerry's trademark is so sophomoric that no company would bother trying it anywhere but in a nation with dubious legal protections.
"It's a strange marketing plan," Jim Balsillie, co-CEO at Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM.
Obviously, Balsillie didn't do his homework on the Chinese political, er, "legal" system before signing partnership agreements. There is nothing "strange" or "weird" about it; stealing Western Crown Jewels has been China's overt M.O. for the past decade.