BlackBerry stumbles over words in Taiwan

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Dan Nystedt
PC World
Tuesday, February 26, 2008; 10:19 AM

BlackBerry sales in Taiwan in 2007 disappointed the local vendor of the popular devices, but the company expects a big improvement this year because people on the island will be able to type mobile e-mails in their own language.

Research In Motion (RIM) currently does not offer the Chinese input method most widely used in Taiwan, Zhuyin (Bopomofo), on its BlackBerry devices, instead offering only the Pinyin system used in China.

The issue caused problems for Taiwan Mobile last year when it started marketing the BlackBerry on the island. Taiwanese BlackBerry users could read Chinese writing on their screens, but couldn't write notes to friends, relatives or colleagues in Chinese because the devices did not support Zhuyin.

"The [BlackBerry] sales figure was not impressive last year," said Vivien Hsu, chief financial officer of Taiwan Mobile, at a media gathering in Taipei on Tuesday.

The company only sold around 3,000 to 3,500 BlackBerry handsets last year, despite starting sales at the beginning of the year and offering a number of promotions.

Executives expect this year to be different.

"We had a meeting with RIM last week, and we should have two handsets with Zhuyin out in the second quarter," said George Chou, chief operating officer of Taiwan Mobile.

He said he's already seen the prototypes and that they're in final testing now. He expects BlackBerry sales to triple this year to as many as 11,000 units thanks to the addition of the Zhuyin input system.


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