BlackBerry apps 'still important' in SA

2014-01-31 09:00
BlackBerry application development is critical to the South African market. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

BlackBerry application development is critical to the South African market. (Duncan Alfreds, News24)

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Cape Town - Applications for the BlackBerry are still relevant in South Africa because of the position the devices hold, but there are signs that the market is shifting.

Despite taking a huge loss in the share of markets in North America and Europe, BlackBerry smartphones have a healthy share of developing countries like SA where the brand is seen as a status symbol.

According to research by World Wide Worx, BlackBerry increased its market share in SA from 18% to 23%, while Samsung was flat at 19%. Apple in the country only has 2% of the market.

"South African consumers have definitively made it clear that they, despite what’s happening on the international front, are willing to use BlackBerry devices," Lynette Hundermark, Apps Business director at Prezence told News24.



She said that if a business was keen on reaching the widest possible number of consumers, it could not afford to ignore BlackBerry.

"As geeks we may have our own personal opinions on this, but it baffles me that these opinions and preferences so strongly influence what is a business question. In South Africa, if you want to reach a critical mass of consumers by using an app, you can't ignore the BlackBerry platform."

BlackBerry subscribers

A developer firm agreed, though cautioning that the priority for BlackBerry was on the decline in terms of developing applications.

"Yes, but it clearly at the bottom of the list in terms of priority," said Lionel Moyal, Intervate managing director.

According to data from a major mobile operator, in terms of real numbers, BlackBerry subscribers make up a significant portion of the South African smartphone scene.



Data from Vodacom showed that there are 3.1 million BlackBerry customers on the network, compared to 1.4 million who use Android-powered smartphones and tablets.

The operator said that as smartphone adoption increased, there was an exponential use of data.

"We have seen a substantial increase in data usage with between 70% and 125% year-on-year growth. This is driven by a number of factors including lower data rates, higher uptake of smart devices and higher usage and uptake of social networking applications such as Facebook, LinkedIn, WhatsApp," a Vodacom spokesperson told News24.

Hundermark warned that apps developed for BlackBerry had to done correctly, and not simply adapted from Android or iPhone apps.

"Far too often apps developed for BlackBerry - particularly the BlackBerry 7 operating system - are nothing more than watered down, poorly functioning versions of Android and iOS apps, which ultimately only hurts the brand which has developed this app."


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