T-Mobile is the latest network to release a prepay BlackBerry Pearl as part of its new ‘Pay Once’ proposition.
It is the latest in manufacturer RIM’s push to penetrate the consumer market; with its latest figures showing that 50 per cent of its user are non-corporate.
The new offer from T-Mobile allows customers to purchase a silver BlackBerry Pearl 8110 for £179.99, which includes one year of unlimited email and internet access. Customers will have to top up their prepay credit to make calls and send texts.
Both companies hope to target new customers that previously had not considered owning a BlackBerry, or a smartphone. Target markets include students, parents, or small business starters. T-Mobile also said the ‘Pay Once’ concept makes giving a BlackBerry as a gift viable for the first time, as there would be no ongoing cost involved for the person giving the gift.
The handset features a two megapixel camera, in-built GPS, a 3.5mm earphone jack and pre-loaded quick-links to sites such as Facebook, MySpace and Flickr.
T-Mobile UK head of internet and entertainment Richard Warmsley said: “In the past, BlackBerry devices have largely been the preserve of the business user, but we know that more and more of our customers want a BlackBerry as their everyday phone. We have seen a 100 per cent increase in customer growth of our consumer-focused Instant Email service on BlackBerry smartphones over the last year.
“Our new ‘Pay Once’ concept means that a whole new group of customers can take advantage of the features of a BlackBerry smartphone without the commitment of a monthly contract and without worrying about how much data they are using.”
RIM senior director for T-Mobile Darren McDermott added: “We are making terrific gains in the non-enterprise market. There are 25 million BlackBerry users worldwide and 50 per cent of those are non-enterprise. I would be comfortable in saying that figure is reflective of the situation in the UK.
“This is a new way of approaching a new group of BlackBerry users, who are more price conscious and have never had a smartphone before. It is now more affordable to a larger number of people.”
Rival Orange introduced a prepay BlackBerry in January, at £145 for the device and £5 a month for internet and email use. McDermott said RIM was looking at similar partnerships with the remaining mobile networks in the UK.