Russia's high flyers to taste Blackberry

Two leading Russian mobile operators, MTS and Vimpelcom, have won approval to sell Blackberry e-mail technology in Russia. The companies may begin providing Blackberry services as early as the second quarter of this year.

Sixteen thousand Blackberry e-mail devices will soon appear on the Russian market.

The Blackberry project manager of MTS Mikhail Ivanov says they planned to launch the service three years ago but had to meet the requirements of the Federal Security Service, the FSB.

The Blackberry service is aimed at corporate clients, business people who need 24-hour access to e-mail.

Phillip Townsend, head of research at investment firm Metropol, could be a typical Blackberry user.

But Townsend says there are alternatives to Blackberry and they've been available on the Russian market for some time.

“Blackberry operates in GPRS or edge technology which is essentially the same as GSM technology which is conventional mobile and the service already exists in Russia,” he said.

Analysts insist Blackberry is a niche service with a relatively small number of high-spending customers and they say it's unlikely to match even the earnings from traditional SMS text messages.