Chasmaille Odera, a 20 year old from Port Au Prince, Haiti, has written several songs about her obsession with her Blackberry handset. “Map chat”, the album featuring her songs has become an instant hit in the local radio programs and is even heard in speeding cars as well as bars. Well this is the anthem of Haiti’s emotional connection to BlackBerry, BBM – the messaging service provided by BlackBerry. Oders is not the only one, Fresh Up, a Haitian band released its song “BBM” which essentially portrays romantic complication which arise due to messaging.
While the world has its eyes set on Apple iPhone’s latest launch, but for youth from the city of Johannesburg to streets of Jakarta, BlackBerry remains an icon of pop culture as well as status symbol. The cheap and reliable BBM services provided by the mobile company are very popular across developing economies. The phenomenon called BlackBerry might have fizzled form developed countries but its popularity in developing countries cannot be undermined.
Sales in developing countries have also increased worldwide subscriptions for RIM. BlackBerry is the most preferred smart phone in countries like Philippines, Indonesia, South Africa and several others. The BBM attracts teenagers because it is relatively cheaper than any SMS facility. It also makes use of RIM network which is reliable and efficient. Another important aspect of this reported popularity is the rate involved, while an iPhone in Haiti may cost around $800, one can easily buy any second hand BlackBerry model for merely $50 on the street.
Some of the success stories related to Blackberry include the duo buying as well as selling handbags by Hermes using their BBM. South Africa’s latest hit is the song tilted as “BBM” sung by the duo Liquideep. Though RIM Director in Asia Pacific, Mr Hastings Singh confirmed that BlackBerry doesn’t fund any cultural talents yet he did keep a tab on the upcoming new hits.
Teenagers in Haiti communicate through their BBM identification numbers which allows them to chat with each other. This eight digit sequence of alpha numerals is even used by young men to find women and also post PINS to Facebook profiles. Even executives as well as government officials use BBM during meetings.
Several citizens associate this connection with BBM to the earthquake which took place in January 2010. It was during this time when cellphone networks ceased to work, and locals, rescue workers as well as journalists communicated through BBM. RIM became cheapest and the most reliable method of communicating during those chaotic days.
A group comprising young Haitian reports even runs BBM news service which flashes to the BlackBerry users’ important government announcements or even rumours and love advice on the weekends. As quoted by Riccardo Constant, a music director from Haiti – “By the end of 2010, everyone was about BlackBerry, everyone was about BBM.” Another rapper Trouble Boy in his latest song sings that “You need to have a BB, in this country, to be a superstar”.