BlackBerry is on the rebound in Africa

2015-04-12 15:00

Phones are no longer phones for the majority of South Africans.

The Mobile Africa 2015 report has – aside from predicting the imminent collapse of Nokia – revealed a decline in the use of SMSes, which are being replaced by free instant messaging services.

The report surveyed more than 3?500 respondents throughout the continent.

It states that Facebook is now used more than SMSes, confirming what has been widely suggested by various other reports on mobile use on the continent – that free instant messaging services are rapidly changing the future of mobile communication in Africa.

An important finding from the survey was that BlackBerry, which has held a 6% penetration for current and previous phones, is expected to increase that figure to 16%.

Matt Angus-Hammond, business development lead for GeoPoll, which conducted the research in southern Africa, explains one reason for the possible surge in BlackBerry adoption.

“BlackBerry introduced most of Africa to the idea of a smartphone and for the first few years was the flagship brand for the category.

“It initially hit the market through companies that had contracts for their executives, but as new models were introduced, the old BlackBerrys have entered the mass market and are still regarded as a status symbol in much of Africa.”

The report also notes that cellphone users are prioritising access to radio over access to the internet, along with a surprising increase in app downloads – a trend aligning with major global trends towards stand-alone sources.

The trends, says local tech guru Arthur Goldstuck, aren’t surprising. “Africa will always hold surprises in technology uptake and continue to underline the reality that every country on the continent is different, and each will reflect different market dynamics.”

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