Friday, July 10, 2009

BlackBerry Maker to Miss Office Deadline

Canada-based Research In Motion, the producer of BlackBerry smartphones, acknowledged on Thursday that it would be unable to meet the Communications Ministry’s July 16 deadline to establish a local after-sales service office. The company, however, promised to open a facility by Aug. 26 to meet another deadline from the Trade Ministry.

RIM’s admission is the company’s strongest statement yet that it is attempting to comply with government demands to open shop in Indonesia after being threatened with a total ban on the import of its phones. Despite RIM’s cooperation, the Communication Ministry said it would still face a total ban on imports of its handsets for more than a month starting on Wednesday.

“RIM is in the process of arranging for an authorized strategic facility that will have national reach by August 26,” Gregory Wade, RIM’s regiona l vice president for the Asia Pacific region, said from Canada in a conference call. “This is to comply with the new regulation of May 26 [from the Trade Ministry].”

The center would expand on RIM’s existing after-sales service — including minor repairs — which is currently provided by RIM’s partners in Indonesia, Wade said.

When asked about the July 16 deadline, Wade said: “That’s a time frame that’s difficult to understand given the May 26 announcement by the Ministry of Trade … that fundamentally identified Aug. 26 as the effective date [for the regulation to come into effect].”

Gatot S Dewabroto, the spokesman for the Communications Ministry, said he had not heard of RIM’s plan to meet the Aug. 26 deadline until he was contacted by the Jakarta Globe.

He said that while the government appreciates RIM’s initiative, the ministry would still issue a total ban on its products coming into the country by Wednesday, as stipulated in its letter this week to RIM.

“It means [RIM] will have to face the ban from July 16 to August 26,” he said, adding that the ministry would lift the ban if RIM opens an office.

The ministry estimated there would be over a million BlackBerry users in Indonesia by the end of the year.