RIM eyes BlackBerry Africa growth

2011-09-29 13:00
Cape Town - Research In Motion (RIM) is focussing on growth in the developing market of Africa, despite losing smartphone market share in the US.

The company recently celebrated 70 million global BlackBerry subscribers, but its focus is developing markets where it commands a major slice of the market and up to 70% of the South African market, according estimates from Vodacom.

Part of the success formula for the smartphone producer has been to link the device to mobile operators.

Users pay a flat rate to have unlimited internet service.

"We see ourselves as an integral partner: We really believe we're a partner, not just another device vendor and it goes back to the solution. For R2 a day, you have access to your browsing," Rui Brites team leader for Product Management in Africa for RIM told News24.

Internet service

The relationship has seen BlackBerrys dominate the mobile market in SA, despite competition from Android powered devices.

According to industry tracker comScore, BlackBerry lost ground to Android devices in the US market, declining 4% to 21.7% in three months while the latter rose to 41.8%.

Apple's iPhone controls 27%, despite selling over 100 million units since its launch, and Nokia's Symbian a miniscule 1.9%, but the company is pinning its hopes on Windows to power its next-generation devices.

With broadband internet service in SA only available to a minority of the population, most people who access the internet do so through mobile devices.

"Internet penetration in South Africa from a person who has ADSL at home is relatively low, and we said we would democratise the internet by having a proposition in the market that the consumer can afford," Brites said.

RIM recently launched the new BlackBerry Bold and Torch models with an updated BlackBerry 7 operating system in SA as the company underlines its aggressive strategy.

RIM has produced a video of "individual stories" where BlackBerry users describe how they use the smartphone.

Here is the video on YouTube:




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