Riyadh, Aug 4: Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, Aug 3, ordered at least one Research In Motion's BlackBerry smartphone service to be blocked on Friday, Aug 6, becoming the latest government to threaten to curb the device on security grounds.
The issue, which pits governments against BlackBerry's super-secure encrypted services, has flared at a particularly inopportune time for RIM. On Tuesday, the company wanted all eyes on the unveiling of its new BlackBerry model at an event in New York.
The new touch-screen BlackBerry Torch is considered RIM's response to tough competition on its North American home turf from the likes of Apple Inc's iPhone, which is driving the company to seek new markets offshore.
Hours before Saudi Arabia's move, a RIM executive said governments were unlikely to carry through on threats because state officials themselves depend heavily on the iconic devices for communication.
"I believe they'll have trouble pulling the trigger to shut down BlackBerry," RIM chief technology officer David Yach said.
"Most governments in the world rely on BlackBerry," later he added.
Saudi Arabia, India and the United Arab Emirates together represent only about 5 percent of the 41 million BlackBerry devices in service worldwide. Even so, they are markets with growth potential for RIM.