RIM warns European distributors over grey trading

A sudden increase in the number of Blackberrys appearing on the grey market has provoked RIM to warn its distributors, especially UK-based firms, not to export their stock to other countries. Some of the largest resellers, including Carphone Warehouse, have been instructed to be vigilant over who they sell to in an effort by RIM to quash the trade.

In particular, demand has been seen for the RIM 8900 Curve and 9000 Bold from all over the Middle East, Africa and even parts of America due to low stock levels in other markets. The UK distribution channel is thought to be a potential source of grey exports due to the fluctuating value of the British pound and the availability of SIM-free stock. More recently, this situation has been in reverse as the pound has risen against the US dollar.

RIM is understood to have greater capability to identify grey market trading compared with other manufacturers due to its email application. Giving an indirect clue to this technical attribute, a company spokesman said: "BlackBerry products are distributed in more than 165 countries and RIM works closely with its authorised operators and indirect distribution partners to provide customers with the best possible pre-sale and post-sale experience."

Cellular operators pay RIM for the use of its server for mobile email, so the manufacturer has a system called ‘Pin First Seen', which is an immediate signal that a BlackBerry device is being used on a certain network.

RIM is able to correlate the network with the IMEI, and as such can spot if a phone sold to a UK distributor or retailer is being used in another country. One distribution exec said that "RIM can see where kit is being sold because it is able to identify host networks."

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