1. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    In These Countries, BlackBerry Is Still KingOf Pop Culture
    BBM Spawns Romantic Comedies in Indonesia, Love Songs in Haiti; 'BlackBerry Boys'

    By SUSANA FERREIRA And WILL CONNORS

    PORT-AU-PRINCE, HaitiChasmaille Odera was so obsessed with writing instant messages on her white BlackBerry, the 20-year-old host of a music-video show here decided to write her own song about it.

    "Map Chat," released earlier this summer under her stage name, Shassy, quickly spread through popular radio programs, local DJs and online. It now blares from car stereos and bars along the capital's streetsthe latest anthem to Port-au-Prince's love affair with the BlackBerry and its instant-messaging service, BlackBerry Messenger, or BBM.

    "BBM," a song by the Haitian band Fresh Up, takes on the romantic complications the messaging service can sometimes stir up. A man in the video wakes up to an ultimatum from his girlfriend: "Honey, if you don't buy me a BlackBerry, I'm going to leave you." And in "Sou BBM," a hip-hop video set in a rowdy Haitian classroom, a beleaguered teacher tries in vain to ban the use of BBM by his students.

    Chasmaille Odera, known as Shassy, wrote the hit song 'Map Chat.'

    Apple Inc.'s iPhone may be the first choice of the smartphone smart set in much of the developed worldand Wednesday's expected launch of the iPhone 5 has been feverishly tracked by techies. But the status symbol and pop-culture icon of choice from Johannesburg to Jakarta remains the BlackBerry, whose cheap and dependable BBM still reigns in many emerging economies.

    Pop culture's embrace of marquee brands is ubiquitous, of course. The band Far East Movement's recent hit, "Like a G6," is an ode to a Gulfstream private jet. Kanye West raps aboutand now designshigh-end shoes by Nike Inc.

    But the BlackBerry phenomenon is blazing across the developing world at a time when the brand has long fizzled in much of the developed world. BlackBerry maker Research In Motion Ltd., RIM.T -0.28% once the undisputed smartphone market leader in the U.S., has seen its market share shrink there in three years from 50% to less than 5%, according to research firm IDC.

    Still, sales in the developing world are helping to lift RIM's world-wide subscriptions, now roughly 80 million-strong. BlackBerrys are the top smartphone in Indonesia, the Philippines, South Africa and a host of other countries, according to RIM.

    Users across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia are flocking to BBM, in particular, for some of the same reasons North American teenagers once embraced it. A BBM message is typically cheaper than a cellphone text. It also uses RIM's own network, often making it more dependable than a cellphone connection in places with shaky telecoms and power infrastructure.

    Unlike in the U.S., where BBM has ceded ground to alternative messaging systems on the iPhone and other phones, those new devices are still largely out of reach. A new iPhone 4 can cost more than $800 in Port-au-Prince, compared with as little as $50 for a secondhand BlackBerry, which many sellers hawk along the city's streets.

    "In other countries you see a very balanced mix of high-end devices, but Haiti is completely dominated by BlackBerry," said Awais Malik, chief operating officer of Haiti's largest cellular service provider, Digicel. "I am one of those people who still think that I'm cool if I'm using one," he said.

    That cachet has helped BlackBerry permeate the upper echelons of a host of emerging economies. In Indonesia, two women started a group buying and selling bags from luxury brand Herms using BBM.

    The women share photos and information about the latest bags via the messenger service. The group became so popular, the women wrote a book about it, called "Herms Temptation."

    In South Africa, the R&B duo Liquideep recently recorded a hit song titled "BBM." Remixed versions have popped up in Nigeria and other countries. "BBM works great when chatting with our ladies," Thabo "Ryzor" Shokgolo, one half of Liquideep, said in an email. "It's nice, quiet and [discreet]."

    The BlackBerry may be increasingly un-hip in the U.S., but in many places around the world, and on You Tube, it is still quite cool. WSJ's Will Connors reports on pop-stars in countries ranging from South Africa to Haiti are paying homage to the BlackBerry and its messenger service, BBM.

    Artists say they don't take money from RIM, and in many cases have never talked to RIM executives about their work. "If BlackBerry knew," said Ms. Odera, the TV-show host in Haiti, "they'd be happy."

    Hastings Singh, RIM's director for the Asia-Pacific region, said RIM isn't funding any of these new cultural references, but he is quick to talk about them. "My BlackBerry Girlfriend," a recent romantic comedy in Indonesia, "did very well at the box office," he said. Officially, RIM said it doesn't actively encourage all the cultural uses, but doesn't discourage them either.

    Advertisers for RIM's partner carriers aren't missing out on the trend. In India, a hugely popular 2008 ad by the local arm of Vodafone Group VOD.LN -1.50% PLC featured a faux pop band called the "BlackBerry Boys." More recently, the group has been singing about BBM in ads.

    In Haiti, middle-class teenagers offer each other their BBM personal identification numberan eight-digit, alphanumeric sequence that allows BBM users to find each other and start chatsin lieu of phone numbers. Young Haitian men trade the BBM contacts of attractive women. Both sexes post PINs on their Facebook pages to attract potential romantic partners.

    Senior executives and government officials here regularly engage in BBM sessions during meetings. When Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe first formed his cabinet last May, he and his team of ministers shared BBM identification numbers before sharing phone numbers, according to some minister members.

    There are BBM-only news services, run by a group of Haitian reporters, which send out news flashes to BlackBerry users. (On weekends, they dish out love advice.) Announcements from Haitian authoritiesor rumors from just about anyoneabout alleged kidnappings, cyclones, traffic accidents and political scandals often appear first on BBM.

    In the video for her song, Ms. Odera dons a series of bright wigs and tight outfits and brags about changing her BBM profile often and revoking chat privileges from boys who don't make the cut. In real life, she juggles more than 700 open BBM chatsinstant-message conversations between herself and one of her more than 1,000 contacts. She messages while driving, while shooting her show andrecentlywhile visiting a friend in the hospital.

    "After the song came out, I had to turn off my phone for two weeks," she said recently outside her studio, darkened by a power cut. She bought a second BlackBerry to keep up.

    Many residents say the local love affair with BlackBerry messaging began in earnest after the January 2010 earthquake, in part because the RIM network was seen as the cheapest and most reliable in the chaotic days that followed. Rescue workers and journalists communicated via BBM while cellphone networks were down.

    "By the end of 2010, everyone was about BlackBerry, everyone was about BBM," said Riccardo Constant, a 25-year-old music video director in Port-au-Prince, who directed "Sou BBM," the video of the rebelling BBM-using students.

    In the video, popular Haitian rapper MC responds defiantly to the teacher's pleadings to stop texting with a chorus, "My Black, my BlackBerry, mais oui."

    "In this country, to be a superstar," another well-known rapper, Trouble Boy, brags in the song, "you need to have a BB."
    In These Countries, BlackBerry - WSJ.com
    sleepngbear likes this.
    09-12-12 11:43 AM
  2. sleepngbear's Avatar
    Cool stuff.
    09-12-12 11:49 AM
  3. zocster's Avatar
    I am enjoying my lumia, alongside my 9320 lol

    Sent from my Lumia 800 using Board Express
    09-12-12 11:53 AM
  4. anon(3249139)'s Avatar
    Don't see anything about Europe or the United Kingdom :x seems a bit odd


    Users across Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia are flocking to BBM, in particular, for some of the same reasons North American teenagers once embraced it. A BBM message is typically cheaper than a cellphone text. It also uses RIM's own network, often making it more dependable than a cellphone connection in places with shaky telecoms and power infrastructure.
    It is almost surprising if you go in to a secondary school and do not see quite a few blackberrys
    09-12-12 12:57 PM
  5. timmy t's Avatar
    In These Countries, BlackBerry Is Still King—Of Pop Culture
    BBM Spawns Romantic Comedies in Indonesia, Love Songs in Haiti; 'BlackBerry Boys'
    How does BBM work without cellphone networks?
    09-12-12 07:25 PM
  6. BergerKing's Avatar
    Still use BBM quite a bit, but don't spend as much time as I used to on it. My BB is kinda touchy, now, but still going strong. Really hope they hit a knock with the newest generation.
    09-12-12 09:01 PM
  7. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Don't see anything about Europe or the United Kingdom :x seems a bit odd




    It is almost surprising if you go in to a secondary school and do not see quite a few blackberrys
    Android and iOS surpassed BlackBerry in the UK over a year ago, so that is why the UK is not mentioned. Android 'now the most popular smartphone' - Telegraph
    09-13-12 12:09 AM
  8. GTiLeo's Avatar
    Android and iOS surpassed BlackBerry in the UK over a year ago, so that is why the UK is not mentioned. Android 'now the most popular smartphone' - Telegraph
    doesn't mean BlackBerry is still not widely popular. i think really the only place where BlackBerry is becoming a thing of the past is in the USA, here in canada you can;t really go many places where you don't see a BlackBerry, granted you see alot of iPhones and do get peopel sayign BlackBerry is dying mainly because our television has alot of American channels and well things spread around.

    i'm a and electrical foreman and go to alot of meetings for work, the dominant phones used by the business folk are still BlackBerry even by the other foreman on site and those that use Androids or iPhone often have cracked screens. i've had someone say he ran his 8300 over with a powerjack and the thing is still going (sorry for goign off topic here).
    09-13-12 01:05 AM
  9. Dapper37's Avatar
    Don't see anything about Europe or the United Kingdom :x seems a bit odd




    It is almost surprising if you go in to a secondary school and do not see quite a few blackberrys
    Its our US news outfits. do you expect more?
    09-13-12 02:37 AM
  10. wuulfy's Avatar
    blackberry is still pretty popular in the uk, mainly because of the good deals offered by the networks. Its pretty much the phone of choice for parents buying for their kids.

    But as someone has said android is the real success story in the uk.
    09-13-12 10:45 AM
  11. Laura Knotek's Avatar
    Its our US news outfits. do you expect more?
    The link I posted in my post #7 was from a UK source.
    09-13-12 10:49 AM
  12. wuulfy's Avatar
    my niece actually has a blackberry and i asked her if she was getting a new phone for her birthday and was she getting an iphone, "no way" she said "my mums got one of those now"..she wants a galaxy apparently.
    09-13-12 10:54 AM
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