CAIRO: Following the news of suspending BlackBerry services in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia, BlackBerry users in Egypt are on the edge of their seats as rumors started to surface that Egypt is next in line.
BlackBerry users are concerned that the ban, which they agree is unfair, might reach Egypt. Some take into account the money they paid for both the device as well as the services.
“We already paid money for the device,” Basma Khater, a housewife, said, “And in case of issuing a ban, we’d like a detailed explanation for it.
“I think the government should have studied the technologies quite well before allowing them in the market in the first place,” she added.
“I wouldn’t really mind the ban if the users were given an alternative, or even a refund,” Ahmed Mansour, another BlackBerry user, said, “There should be a period of time between issuing a ban and stopping the sales.”
For other users, much of the BlackBerry’s allure was the exclusive BlackBerry Messenger service. Many agree that this will be the worst part about the decision.
“Banning the BBM is banning a trend. I wouldn’t like to see such a means of communication with such perfect convenience forbidden,” Yasmeen Haidara, a student at the American University in Cairo, said.
“I’m concerned about national security, but there has to be a way to monitor the operations. I think banning it is just a further step into suppressing the freedom of speech,” she added.
On the other hand, there are a few who support the ban, explaining that many Egyptians, fell “victim” to this trend.
“I totally support banning BlackBerry all over the world,” said Omar Zaki, a student. He described it as “eating people’s brains.”
“When you talk to someone while he/she is using the BBM or BlackBerry Messager service, they most likely won’t respond,” he said, “It’s time-consuming as well, and I don’t see why people can’t easily switch to using iPhones instead.”
However, according to sources at service operators Mobinil and Vodafone, no official ban on the services has been issued yet in Egypt.
“We didn’t receive any order from the Ministry of Communications, and we are still selling BlackBerrys and providing its services,” said an employee at a Mobinil shop.
A manager at the same shop added that the BlackBerry services are unlikely to be banned, regardless of what’s happening in Saudi Arabia or the Emirates.
Earlier this week, the United Arab Emirates as well as Saudi Arabia said it will suspend use of BlackBerry services, citing concerns about security risks. Some argue that the decision was taken because the government is unable to monitor BlackBerry Messenger services.
However, according to a manager at a Vodafone shop, the rumors did little to hinder the sales of the phone.
“BlackBerry customers are a lot, about 15 people per day in each [Vodafone] branch ask for the activation of the BlackBerry services,” he said. “If we stop selling them, we will go down.”
A BlackBerry device is sold at a price that ranges between LE 1,499 and LE 3,499. “Smart phones, like iPhone and BlackBerry, comprise a big part of the Vodafone sales,” he added.
According to him, now a lot of Egyptians can afford the device and are opting for it, especially upper and middle class students.