China Mobile launched its mainland version of the BlackBerry e-mail device this week for corporate customers, hoping to strengthen its base of high-end users prior to the industry's restructuring, which could spark further competition. The nation's largest mobile operator launched one model of the BlackBerry device that is tailor-made for mainland users. The Blackberry 8700 - and the phone and e-mail service package - started selling in more than 100 outlets. However, retail customers are still not allowed to join the BlackBerry service, according to China Mobile's website. There is market speculation that China Mobile acquired fewer than 10,000 BlackBerry devices in the first round of procurement. If corporate users commit to a two-year contract with a 598 yuan (HK$668.03) monthly tariff for the BlackBerry service - and make a prepayment for 13 months for 7,774 yuan - they can have a new 8700 device for only 1 yuan, according to the operator's customer service hotline. China Mobile also offers two BlackBerry service-only packages to corporate users with monthly tariffs of 398 yuan and 598 yuan. The packages include 50 megabytes and 400 megabytes of mobile data usage. China Mobile's rival China Unicom launched a mobile e-mail service called RedBerry two years ago to compete with the BlackBerry. 'The BlackBerry service should be popular in first-tier cities such as Beijing and Shanghai as executives of foreign firms are the potential users,' a China Mobile executive said. 'China Mobile will not push the BlackBerry for the mass market following their strategy not to put too much focus on foreign technology,' said a telecommunications equipment sector analyst yesterday. 'Mobile e-mail service involves the transmission of sensitive information related to corporate or government information. While mainland equipment vendors like ZTE and Huawei Technologies are facing obstacles in getting into the North America market, the mainland government could adopt the same strategy to scale down the launch of foreign technologies,' the analyst said. China Mobile reached an agreement with Canadian-based Research in Motion to bring the BlackBerry service to the country in 2006. China Mobile launched the service in late 2006. However, it was limited to service subscriptions for imported BlackBerry devices.