updated 12:35 pm EST, Tue November 4, 2008
RIM Prepaid BBerry Leak
A leak today stemming from BGR suggests Research in Motion is launching a major effort to offer prepaid BlackBerry phones and the relevant data service. Already in use by Indonesia, the company is pitching a prepaid BlackBerry server to carriers in North America and elsewhere to serve customers who would want the push e-mail and other smartphone level services but for customers who either only use service very occasionally, are cash-limited or simply don't want to supply the private information for a regular subscription.
One of the possible solutions would also help prospective BlackBerry owners get onboard. Instead of insisting on paying full price for the phone and then adopting prepaid service, a new solution dubbed BlackBerry in a Box would give a user both a BlackBerry and one year of the BlackBerry Information Service's push mail; after this, the customer could decide to either renew for another year or else to opt into another strategy, such as prepaid or a full monthly subscription.
Either of the tactics would help carriers by taking some of the pressure away to push phone sales by letting outside retailers handle the brunt of prepaid sales. It would also encourage these often cautious users to spend more on prepaid service and would give carriers a way of contacting inactive users to keep them onboard.
A greater jump into prepaid service is potentially crucial for RIM. About 72 percent of all cellphone users are on prepaid service, while the BlackBerry Pearl and Pearl Flip are now low cost enough to be bought outright by students and others who could afford the upfront costs but may not use the phone heavily enough to justify a regular rate. The company is also targeting the service at users who would be more likely to use IM or social networks like Facebook than the traditional business-centric BlackBerry user.