blackberry

In Nigeria and South Africa, Blackberry has launched its latest smartphone, the Blackberry Leap. According to the company, this smartphone offers more than a day’s battery life, even with heavy use.

This latest version of the phone has switched out its old keyboard to feature a new touchscreen, much like the Apple iPhone. The new touchscreen keyboard features error correction and multilingual support.

Many may question why a consumer would buy a Blackberry when there are much more popular phones like iPhone, Android and Samsung.

The Blackberry, jokingly referred to as the “Crackberry,” was once the must-have device for executives. It was the first smartphone that allowed easy and constant access to email and the Internet. The easy-to-use QWERTY keyboard allowed executives to respond to emails without being tied to a computer.

But with the emergence of the Apple iPhone, Blackberry quickly lost its dominance as the number one smartphone in the market.

Would you buy an unpopular smartphone? The answer from consumers in Africa is… yes.

Over the past four years, the Blackberry Curve has been the most popular smartphone in South Africa. A recent survey conducted by Vodacom in South Africa found that Blackberries make up 23 percent of the smartphone market. In Nigeria, Blackberries make up 40 percent of the smartphone market.

But why have Blackberry phones become so popular in African countries?

The first reason is that Blackberries are a status symbol; they were once the phones used by top executives. People strive to achieve the same success associated with the phones.

Additionally, an attractive feature of the Blackberry is its low-cost data bundles. In fact, Blackberry users can send messages for free using the Blackberry Messenger (BBM). This makes the phones well-suited for less capable mobile networks.

And lastly, Blackberries are able to stay updated without the purchase of a new smartphone. In developing countries, phones are upgraded less frequently. Before the introduction of the Blackberry Leap, the most up-to-date Blackberry in South Africa was 3 years old.

There is still room for growth for Blackberry in African countries. In a poll conducted by GeoPoll, 17 percent of people reported that they would buy a Blackberry as their next phone.

Blackberry is predicted to keep its number one spot in Africa as the most popular smartphone brand partly because of its popularity with students.

The Blackberry brand has transitioned from being known as the phone for high power executives to the most popular, affordable phone used in developing countries. Of course, affordability is an important aspect when purchasing a smartphone. Blackberry has allowed consumers in developing countries to afford a smartphone without sacrificing technology, mobile network service or various communication abilities.

– Kerri Szulak

Sources: Inside Blackberry, IT News Africa, The Conversation
Photo: TechLoy