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RIM aims to increase Africa market share

         Date: 2012-03-24

           Tag: Africa market, Africa market increase

Summary: Research In Motion is banking on reduced prices for BlackBerrys and an increasing demand for affordable smartphones to increase its market share in Africa.

Research In Motion is banking on reduced prices for BlackBerrys and an increasing demand for affordable smartphones to increase its market share in Africa.

Smartphones were considered elitist and expensive, but the entry of affordable Chinese smartphones such as Ideos has forced manufacturers to rethink their strategies. Nokia had dominated the market with entry-level handsets, but Huaweii introduced Ideos, which retail at US$100, and proved the market was craving affordable smartphones.

The BlackBerry is currently available in over 40 African countries in partnership with over 85 carriers and the company says it is working closely with African carriers and distributors to provide affordable tariffs for its products.

In Africa, most mobile phone users are on prepaid service and their incomes are not high enough to support Black Berry services. RIM has had to work with operators to provide tiered BlackBerry Internet service options in Kenya, Nigeria and Ghana, where the number of Internet users is growing steadily.

"We will continue to provide smartphones with Internet connectivity, strong communications features and a rich application ecosystem into Africa at affordable prices," he said.

One of the biggest challenges RIM faces is the lack of developers on the platform, compared to Nokia, Samsung and Android phones.

In South Africa with higher penetration rates, the developer community is working on the platform, but in places like east Africa, RIM is trying to interest developers.

To engage Kenyan developers, RIM recently donated smartphones and tablets to the mLab, a developer co-working space in Nairobi. The donation was aimed at creating accessibility to RIM devices and encourage coding for the BlackBerry.

Developer interest depends on the level of investment and engagement with the community. In South Africa, RIM has a local office, while in east Africa, RIM is in the process of setting up local offices.


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