In most of the world, the BlackBerry name just doesn't have the cachet that it once did. Still, there are pockets around the globe where a BlackBerry phone commands the same kind of attention and excitement as that empty Coke bottle in The Gods Must Be Crazy
. Ironically, Africa is one of those areas where the BlackBerry name is greeted warmly. Earlier this year, we told you how 5,000 South African voters age 8 through 22 selected BlackBerry as "the Coolest Cellphone"
, "the Coolest Hi-Tech Gadget" and the "Coolest Brand Overall".
That is only part of the story for RIM in Africa. As of the second quarter of the year, BlackBerry was the number one smartphone vendor in the country
with six of the top ten smartphone models as of June. In Nigeria during June, the top three selling smartphones in the country all wore the BlackBerry brand. In Nigeria, Egypt and South Africa, the top selling smartphone was the BlackBerry Curve 8520.
The BlackBerry Curve 8520 was atop the charts in three countries in the region last June
Just why is BlackBerry doing such brisk business in the region? Part of the reason is that BlackBerry Internet Service is now available in Africa for both pre-paid and post-paid service, making it more affordable to go online. Additionally, thanks to social networking sites, every corner of the world is within reach. This combination of cheaper mobile access and the reach of social networking sites can be summed up in one statistic. In Kenya, 40% of Facebook logins are through a mobile device.
With the number of BBM users in South Africa rising an impressive 47% in the last 18 months, BlackBerry sales have helped Africa become the second largest mobile market in the world with business rising 30% a year over the last decade
. BlackBerry has just opened an office in Nigeria, and in many ways the BlackBerry fans in the area are no different than the fans in any other country as they also look forward to the release early next year of BlackBerry 10
"BlackBerry continues to grow from strength to strength in Africa and we're proud of our number one position in this market. The exponential growth of smartphones on the Continent continues to create significant opportunities for RIM and our partners, especially among the mobile development community. Mobility is a growth driver in Africa, bringing the Internet, social networks and apps to millions of people that are creating new businesses, using apps to teach, or indeed in the case of the iAfya app, saving lives with critical information. We're proud to support the African development community to take advantage of this growth in Africa, but also reach over 78 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide. With such large and loyal customer base, and a growing community of developer partners, Africa remains a strategic focus for our business and is a key part of our future growth as we innovate to bring BlackBerry 10 to market next year."-Robert Bose, RIM Regional Managing Director for the Middle East and Africa