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Did BlackBerry miss a trick with the launch of BB10?

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.

  • Netherlands: 30%
  • Ecuador: 28%
  • Venezuela: 25%
  • Saudi Arabia: 20%
  • Colombia: 15%
  • Mexico: 14%
  • Argentina: 14%
  • South Africa: 14%
  • United States: 14%
  • France: 14%
  • Kuwait: 13%

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.

India and Indonesia Mobile Numbers

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.

Author | Stuart Thomas

Stuart Thomas
Stuart is the editor-in-chief of Engage Me Online. After pursuing an MA in South African literature, he spent five years reporting on the global technology scene. Intrigued by the intersection of technology and work, he joined Engage Me as the editor-in-chief. He is a passionate runner, and recently ran... More


  1. shedahab

    February 7, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Stuart Thomas how does a journalist with no marketing or business accumen make comments like you have….oh I know……you make the pathetic Yahoo comments you just did.
    Admit you personal dislike for BB and stop you ignorance. BB launched in South Africa because it is the larest selling phone in that country and the BB7 is still selling like hotcakes

  2. Stuart Thomas

    February 8, 2013 at 8:06 am

    I’m sorry you feel that way. I would however urge you to read the story again. If you do so you’ll see that I do acknowledge the popularity of BlackBerry in emerging market countries like South Africa. In fact, when it comes to emerging market countries all I’ve done is report on the stats.

    The only actual comment I’ve made is saying that if BlackBerry is to retain its emerging markets dominance, (see Indonesia for how easily it could lose this) it’ll need to regain its cool in the developed world (You don’t slip as far behind Android and iOS as BlackBerry has while staying cool).

    I don’t hate BlackBerry by any means. I think it suffered under bad management for a time but that things are slowly changing. Again, as I said. BB10 is a *good* start.

  3. Tim

    February 27, 2013 at 5:01 pm

    It is becoming cool again in the UK and Canada. I think it can very well become cool again in other countries as well.
    Sometimes just being new and fresh will result in cool. BB has more going for it than that but superficially, this will work until people realize what is great underneath the skin.

  4. Angela Walker

    February 28, 2013 at 4:21 am

    Stuart, don’t listen to the retarded BB fanboys. However, you miss a large point — emerging markets do not influence established markets to purchase a device. It’s the opposite. Once something becomes “cool” in the developed world it filters down to the less developed world. Rarely does that happen in reverse. If RIMM (excuse me, BBRY) had launched BB10 in third-world countries it would have cemented its reputation as a low-class device.

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