HONG KONG, June 26 China Telecom (0728.HK), one
of China's top three mobile carriers, said on Friday it has
approached Research in Motion RIM.TO about possibly offering
its popular BlackBerry mobile email service in China.
"The two companies have just started preliminary contacts,"
China Telecom's spokesman said, without providing more details.
A RIM spokeswoman had no comment on the situation.
China Telecom shares were up 3.44 percent in afternoon trade
in Hong Kong.
China Mobile (0941.HK), China's dominant mobile carrier with
more than two-thirds of the market, has offered BlackBerries in
China since 2006, but has not strongly promoted the service.
China's other major mobile carrier, Unicom (0728.HK), has
also said in the past that it was in talks with RIM about
offering BlackBerry service. But a spokeswoman had no update on
whether those talks were still ongoing.
"We view a potential tie-up of China Telecom and BlackBerry
as a positive but not a game changer," Goldman Sachs analyst
Helen Zhu wrote in a research note.
She noted that China Mobile already offers BlackBerry
service in China, and that the product has limited appeal to a
broader mass audience.
China's three main telecoms carriers have been seeking to
beef up their offerings and differentiate themselves following a
long-awaited restructuring of the industry and issuance of
third-generation (3G) mobile licenses over the last year.
In addition to the BlackBerry talks, frequent media reports
have said that both China Mobile and Unicom were talking with
Apple (AAPL.O) at various times to bring the U.S. company's
popular iPhone to China.
(Reporting by Doug Young and Joanne Chiu; Editing by Ken