Indonesia abandons BlackBerry

Indonesia abandons BlackBerry
In Jakarta, Steven Chandra sells smartphones. A few years ago, 90% of the phones he would sell in his shop were branded with the BlackBerry name. "Now, it’s one out of 10. I barely sell any," Chandra says of BlackBerry handsets. According to IDC, as recently as 2011, 43% of the Indonesian market was controlled by the manufacturer.
But that has since declined sharply. In the first 6 months of this year, BlackBerry's market share in the country was just 3%. That takes the brand below most other smartphone names in Indonesia, both big and small. You'd expect it to trail such manufacturers as Samsung, but you might be surprised to find BlackBerry's share below such unknown smartphone names as Indonesia's own Smartfren.

Andy Cobham, who managed BlackBerry's business in Indonesia, blames the company's management for many of the problems that took place. According to Cobham, the suits in Waterloo, where the company is headquartered, wanted to have the final decision on everything. He cited a promotion where the first 1000 people to arrive would receive a 50% discount on the BlackBerry Bold 9790. The local office tried to convince Waterloo to cancel the promotion, citing fears of a riot that might ensue. And that is exactly what took place.

BlackBerry also lost a lot of good will in Indonesia when former CEO Thorsten Heins said that the company was going to leave the consumer market to focus on its enterprise business. Most of its sales in the country are to individuals, who feared that they would lose the chance to purchase new 'Berry handsets. And the Indonesian government made things worse by demanding that the company set up a factory in the country. Not only did the company refuse, it built a plant in rival Malaysia.

But there is hope for a turnaround. Thanks to BlackBerry's deal with Foxconn, the BlackBerry Z3 was released this year, produced for emerging markets. There even was a special Jakarta Edition available. Messaging app BBM is now gaining popularity in the region, with local membership up 150% over the last year. And a mobile payment service called BBM Money is available for use in the country by BBM members.

Company spokesman Matt Stewart says that by reaching out to consumers in the country, it is aiming for tomorrow's "mobile professionals," a demographic where BlackBerry is usually strong.

Thanks for the tip Arif!

source: TheGlobeandMail

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