BlackBerry Smartphones Still An Object Of Desire in Africa

Blackberry fruit nice and luscious © Anna Kucherova Shutterstock

BlackBerry remains the second most popular mobile phone maker in South Africa, but could its strategy throw away its lead in developing markets?

Despite its well-documented recent struggles, BlackBerry remains the second most popular mobile phone manufacturer in South Africa, according to a new survey by local research firm World Wide Worx.

The beleaguered manufacturer now has a 23 percent share of the market, up from 18 percent last year, and is second only to Nokia in the country, leading to suggestions that BlackBerry should do more to capitalise on its apparent popularity in developing countries.

According to the survey, 29 percent of respondents said they planned to purchase a BlackBerry handset next year, while the company has a 57 percent market share among South African university and college students.

Big in Africa

blackberry2011topMany people in Africa see a BlackBerry as a status symbol, and it is suggested that low-cost data packages and free messaging through BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) are the cause of the popularity and offer a comparatively cheaper option to the likes of Apple and Samsung devices.

But the majority of BlackBerry’s marketing efforts in South Africa have focused on the more expensive Q5 smartphone, which is pitched as a mid-range BlackBerry 10 handset in developed markets, rather than the much cheaper, and popular, Curve range.

BlackBerry has announced deals for BBM to be pre-installed on cheap Android handsets in Africa, India, Indonesia, Latin American and the Middle East, but its most recent shift in focus indicated that it was targeting the enterprise rather than cheaper price points.

It has been suggested it will only offer four BlackBerry 10 handsets in its portfolio – two high-end and two mid-range smartphones – which are currently the touchscreen-based Z30 and Z10 and the keyboard-based Q10 and Q5.

This strategy appears to lack room for a range of cheaper smartphones in developing markets, meaning this potential market could quickly be lost to cheaper handsets from the likes of Nokia and Android manufacturers.

BlackBerry has had a bumpy year! Try our 2013 BlackBerry quiz!