Why BlackBerry Phone is Losing out in Nigeria, Africa

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By Omolabake Fashogbon…

Some years back, Canadian multinational company, BlackBerry Limited, held sway in Nigeria and Africa with its range of mobile devices.
The phone brand used to be a status symbol, often used as the unofficial benchmark for standard of living in Nigeria.
The BlackBerry Messenger, BBM feature in particular drove sales for the brand which in no time became a household brand and    improved from time to time with new and advanced features.
However, for sometime now, not much has been said or heard of the brand most especially in Nigeria, apart from the fact that it no longer moves the market.

Confirming this position, Wikipedia submitted that “BlackBerry was considered one of the most prominent smartphone vendors in the world, specialising in secure communications and mobile productivity. At its peak in September 2013, there were 85 million BlackBerry subscribers worldwide.
“However, BlackBerry has since lost its dominant position in the market due to the success of the Android and iOS platforms; the same numbers had fallen to 23 million in March 2016”.
Another  report from ‘The Telegraph’ argued that Blackberry which  was once the world’s leading smartphone company now accounts for just  three per cent of mobile phone sales worldwide while a  combination of technical issues, trademark disputes and management blunders have left the Canadian group reeling. Recall that in 2016, the company announced a formal end to its hardware business, which it said would be outsourced to partners; and thus focused on software development and services.

This decision saw the company exit the phone-making business after wooing consumers for 14 years and brought the new handler, TCL into the picture, who now carries the global right to BlackBerry’s phone brand.
Most people however, hinged the firm’s present unattractive position on this decision, but reports confirmed that the company had been failing prior to this announcement, the more reason it decided to exit the line of hardware manufacturing.
For instance, in the second quarter of 2016, the firm is reported to have incurred a loss of $372m (£286m) compared to a profit of $51m in the same period in 2015.  Its sales declined further to $734m down from $1.1bn in the first six months of 2015.
A resource person very close to the company told Marketplace that BlackBerry as a software developing company was on the winning path as it continues to rise, beating analyst predictions.

He however said that the mobile phone brand, now managed by  TCL but still using the blackberry identity keeps  losing momentum in the Nigerian market and indeed African, because operators do not buy fund, hence, the ground  remained unproductive for the business.
“Presently, the brand focuses mainly on US, Europe and Asia markets where telecom operators are the primary distributors of mobile phones.
“In continents such as North America and Europe, telecom operators are the primary distributors of mobile phones. Oftentimes they bundle their airtime and phones as a package. In Nigeria, phones are primarily sold through distributors and dealers, not operators. Some phone manufacturers such as TCL seem to strategically focus on these operator-based markets, hence, pay limited attention to distributor markets like Nigeria. This is one of the reasons we are witnessing brand erosion of blackberry-branded phones in Nigeria”, the source revealed.

Managing Director of Dallas Communication Limited, Mr Emmanuel Dallas, pointed out that the phone brand started losing it with the arrival of android compatible devices.
He noted that the brand only realised it was losing its market share  long after it was already too late when other brands had taken over the market, thus applying the damage control strategy.
“This was when the brand launched its first android device, Priv. But again, it got the marketing strategy wrong because the product was targeted at high-end consumers when ordinarily it should have been priced to favour the masses so as to be able to win back the market.”
He added that if the company had renewed its licence with Facebook as regards to Whatsapp feature, perhaps, it may still appeal to consumers.