Entrepreneur creates potential solution for RIM-India dispute – but is it necessary, or even legal?

Research in Motion versus India’s government. The battle has raged on for months, and as near the extended deadline of January 31st, many are hoping that an official, mutually viable solution will be achieved.

Hoping otherwise is Indian entrepreneur Ajay Data. The aptly named businessman founded tech firm Data Infosys Limited, and its latest project has been solving the BlackBerry battle his own way. Quoth the Globe and Mail:

Mr. Data rushed into action, assigning 30 programmers to design a system that allows users to send and receive e-mail from their BlackBerries without relying on RIM’s servers. Messages are shunted through a server in Jaipur, allowing Indian security forces to monitor the traffic if necessary.

He called his service Bharat Berry, using the local word for the Indian subcontinent, and says that 150,000 people downloaded his software in the first 15 days after the service debuted at the end of October. Some of those users were probably worried about their handsets turning into paperweights if the RIM-India dispute escalates, Mr. Data said, but others might have been lured by his introductory price – free – and the prospect of later paying $1 per month, instead of Blackberry subscription fees.

There are obvious potential flaws: his new business may suffer greatly if RIM is about to settle with India—which is what most sources suggest. After all, RIM was able to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia in a similar situation. 

“If RIM sets up a server in India, I will have difficulty selling this here,” Ajay admitted to the Globe. “But they won’t set up servers everywhere in the world.” So his Bharat Berry may be pushed into other countries, Ajay noting Nepal as a possibility.

This is definitely stepping on RIM’s toes, but RIM emailed a statement to the Globe, largely dismissing the relevance of the so-called Bharat Berry.

“RIM does not view the Data Infosys service as a viable alternative for BlackBerry customers,” RIM says. “Further, RIM’s discussions with the government of India continue to be positive and constructive and RIM is committed to serving its customers and growing its business in India.”

But if RIM wants, they can take legal action. Kik Messenger stepped on RIM’s toes, and it effectively pulled the app from its site. Here, the ball is truly in its court: the BlackBerry maker could probably sue if it felt threatened.

“I can’t believe that what [Ajay is] doing is legal,” Ehud Gelblum, an analyst for Morgan Stanley in New York, told the paper. “You can see the danger for RIM, that people may find an alternative and never go back.”

The Bharat Berry will never prove itself secure enough to appeal to enterprise services, but general consumers, especially those on emerging markets, may very well discover the appeal.

What do you think? Is Bharat Berry in the wrong or it is a creative solution to a complex problem?