BlackBerry might just have missed a trick with the recent launch of BlackBerry 10. No not with the devices — those were largely well-received — but with the countries it chose to hold the launch in.
The launch event represented a new start for the company that once ruled the smartphone roost. Out went the name Research in Motion (RIM) and all the negative connotations that came with it. In came a couple of exciting new devices.
At the time, the decision to launch almost simultaneously in seven countries (USA, UK, South Africa, India, Indonesia, France and the UAE) made sense. BlackBerry was reminding the world that it was a global company, strong in emerging markets and still alive in more developed countries.
That message is all well and good, but was it focused on the wrong countries? According to Dr KF Lai, the CEO of mobile online advertising company BuzzCity, it just might have been.
Stats from BuzzCity’s research network show that while BlackBerry was right to launch in some of the countries it did, it should perhaps have considered Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador or Argentina. Ignoring more developed countries for a moment, all of these top the emerging markets BlackBerry chose to launch in (India, Indonesia and South Africa) in terms of total traffic.
Lai also reckons that BlackBerry needs to redouble its efforts in emerging market countries, particularly among people making the switch from feature phones to smartphones. BuzzCity’s research shows that a number of those users in countries like India and Indonesia are already choosing Android and iOS over BlackBerry.
In Indonesia at least that sentiment is validated by research from IDC which came out in the latter part of and showed that Android had overtaken BlackBerry as the top smartphone OS in what was traditionally one of its strongest markets.
We would argue however that if BlackBerry can regain its cool factor in more developed markets, it’ll help it retain and grow its emerging markets user base. BlackBerry 10 and its accompanying launch were a step in the right direction. What really matters though is what it does next.