In the US and the UK everyone has their mind set on a new iPhone at upgrade time. If folks aren’t getting an iPhone right away then they’re certainly waiting for the new version to release. Believe it or not, the iPhone is not the go-to brand in every country though. In fact, South Africa has little need for Apple’s hot iPhone, where supply is remarkably uncommon.
Instead, the general concern in South Africa, especially with the youth, lies with the Blackberry brand. Yeah, you heard us right. Blackberry is still cool somewhere.
Blackberry is Still Popular Somewhere
In fact, the Blackberry line is considered to be something of a status symbol in South Africa. If you desire to be respected in South Africa or Nigeria, then you better be sporting a Blackberry smartphone with your ensemble.
According to World Wide Worx, a Johannesburg based research firm, there are more than 2.5 million active Blackberry devices in South Africa. Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx, said that in Nigeria Blackberry is the number one smartphone brand thanks to its successful representation.
“People see it as a symbol of having made it in business,” says Goldstuck.
Why Blackberry is so Popular in South Africa & Nigeria
Besides the low cost, the BBM (Blackberry Messenger) instant-message service plays the biggest role in Blackberry’s success. Blackberry Messenger allows Blackberry owners to chat instantly with other Blackberry owners through an IM service, which utilizes the operational data connection of the phone.
Goldstuck says, “BBM is what drives the cool factor for BlackBerry.”
The low cost and guaranteed data rates are another significant reason that Blackberry phones are popular with the youth. In South Africa, Blackberry devices are cheaper than competing smartphones on the market and include a fixed data rate of about $7 a month.
Another interesting statistic to note is that, in Nigeria, only 5% of mobile phones on the market are of the smartphone variety. Which essentially means that there aren’t many smartphones in the wild in Nigeria, yet Blackberry is still active in numbers well over 2 million, that’s impressive!
The Future of Blackberry in The African Market
Luckily, the iPhone is considered to be nothing more than an expensive toy in Nigeria, so it doesn’t seem as if Apple will be seeing outstanding success over there anytime soon. Of course, Blackberry will soon have a contender in cheap Android devices which have started making their way into the country. Phones like the new Samsung Galaxy S3 have made their way to the market over there and could easily overwhelm Blackberry if RIM loses focus.
RIM is working to combat the rising competition by raising awareness in the Blackberry brand. In order to do so, RIM is launching a Blackberry Apps Lab at the University of Pretoria, which will specialize in the development of mobile apps that will appeal to the African audience.
In addition, RIM is also reaching out to young, black clientele, through local events, music and advertising gigs and of course the support of Slikour (a prominent South African rapper).
As long as RIM can continue to supply the type of material that is most desired in the African market, they should continue to be a growing force. Luckily, with the help of this new app development strategy they can bring new clients onboard and increase the Blackberry people even more.
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