1. the_sleuth's Avatar
    BBM is the driving force in BB popularity:

    BlackBerry gets squeezed, but not in SA

    Reports of the death of BlackBerry are greatly exaggerated - just ask any youngster. Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian company that makes the smartphones, is going through a torrid time in developed markets and has shed around half its share price in the past year.

    But in SA it's the top-selling smartphone brand and a runaway success with youngsters because of its cheap messaging and internet access.

    Craige Fleischer, RIM's regional director for Southern Africa, says BlackBerry devices accounted for 70% of network operator Vodacom's smartphone sales in the June quarter.

    And the outlook is good. Research conducted at the end of last year by Worldwide Worx shows BlackBerry had 4% market penetration locally, Nokia 51%, Samsung 28% and Apple's iPhone 1%. When respondents were asked what cellphone they'd buy next, 24% said it would be a BlackBerry.

    "We've never seen such brand momentum in terms of intent to purchase," says analyst and principal researcher, Arthur Goldstuck.

    In SA, BlackBerry's internet subscription service costs R59 a month for unlimited access - excluding streaming services such as YouTube.

    "In other countries that charge is usually around R600 a month," says Goldstuck.

    "In terms of messaging, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) can compete successfully with other low-cost messaging services like MXit with its 10-million active South African users."

    BlackBerry's figures in Western markets are slumping but the company isn't failing - the overall smartphone market is growing in those regions.

    Goldstuck says BlackBerry is still the fastest-growing smartphone brand in developing economies.

    In the Sunday Times Generation Next Youth Brand Survey 2011, BlackBerry clinched the overall number one popularity spot. Research among 18- to 22-year-olds placed it well ahead of the next tech brand, Apple Mac in the number seven position, followed by Samsung and Nokia in ninth and 10th place respectively.

    Goldstuck says BlackBerry has been able to penetrate the South African market for several reasons.

    "Obviously the low cost of its internet access service is a plus, as is the BBM platform which is popular among youngsters because they can customise their user names using symbols and can add expressive emoticons to their messages.

    "Then there's a price of the handsets themselves - the cost of a high-end phone is among the lowest on the market - some are less than R2000."

    He says apps are the way forward for BlackBerry as well as a move away from the exclusivity of its operating platform.

    On the apps front RIM this week announced the availability of BBM 6, a new version which provides support for "BBM connected" apps which integrate the popular functions of the BBM service and give users the ability to interact with their friends from within the app itself. So, for example, with a BBM-connected game app users can invite their BBM friends to join them in a game and then chat with one another in real time while the game is being played - without leaving the game. Another way to please the kids.

    Says RIM's Fleischer: "The youth especially love BBM, which enables them to share text and voice messages, pictures and video clips. BBM experienced a 500% increase in usage in 2010 and has over 45million users worldwide."

    RIM's share price has been dropping principally because of growing competition from Apple's iPhone and phones running Google's Android operating system in the US market.

    Android is an open system, meaning it can be used on handsets produced by manufacturers that support it.

    Even Nokia is abandoning closed systems in favour of a more open Windows Phone operating environment and is punting the likes of cross-platform messaging systems such as WhatsApp, which runs on just about any smartphone.

    RIM built its business on servicing the corporate market and has since found a far broader audience for its products and services, particularly among the youth. But is it too little too late? Its recently launched PlayBook tablet computer has been widely criticised and the company said this week it would be laying off about 2000 employees or 10% of its workforce.

    Several senior employees have left the company recently to join Korean firm Samsung Mobile, including Brian Wallace, RIM's former vice-president of digital marketing and media, and PlayBook senior manager Ryan Bidan.

    BlackBerry gets squeezed, but not in SA - Business LIVE
    07-31-11 07:27 AM
  2. lnichols's Avatar
    It has exploded there for sure. My wife is from there and seems like once a week or more she sees one of her Facebook friends or family start posting from a Blackberry and she adds them to her BBM so she can chat with them. We're going to be sending a phone back for her brother to use so she can talk to him more, and that will mean that her mom, sister and nephew who are here in the US will be getting them when their contracts are up. Not only that but it seemed like everyone down there has a cell phone because landline copper is dug up and stolen constantly and the coverage there is excellent.

    2000 RAND is about $300 US, and the 59 RAND monthly cost is less than $10.

    RIM still needs to get the Superphone out ASAP for the Western markets, but in the rest of the world BB6 and 7 devices will be in high demand because of the great prices of hardware, rates for service, and features they deliver at those prices.

    Also I think that for the US international traveller, BB is the best device that you can use. Very data efficient, the encryption through BIS/BES lets you bypass local policies/filtering in more restricted countries, and the BBM is great to keep in contact with people in other parts of the world, or back in the US while still being efficient.
    07-31-11 09:03 AM
  3. Dapper37's Avatar
    Market growth like this is impressive, even more so when you concider it has been done with less than recent technology, bring on the new handsets and hold on. Its reasons stated in the article that got RIM'S back. Its good to get the international perspective to combat some in NA that cant stop saying their dead. Please.. What a foundation to grow from.
    07-31-11 11:30 AM