BlackBerry and India – A special bond

BlackBerry has been in the hardware business for more than 16 years now, and has been trading in numerous countries. But, India holds a special place for the company. Being second most populous country in the world, India has always been a very good market consisting more of ‘consumers’.
With nearly 930 Million cellphone users in India, It’s a very crucial market. And BlackBerry has been focusing since a decade.

From 2007-2012, BlackBerry was the ultimate leader in the country. Everyone loved it, From Professionals to Teenagers. The main driving factor was BBM. Rather than paying exorbitant prices for an SMS, BBM was much cheap. Just buy a BIS (BlackBerry Internet Service) package from your Telecom operator and enjoy unlimited chatting and connectivity. BlackBerry was at it’s peak during this period. Everyone wanted a BlackBerry. It was a trend. BlackBerry was everywhere. Every mobile seller was stocked with BB’s. And YES, They sold like hot pancakes. BlackBerry was the only device you’ll see in cities. No other brand worked so well.
But soon, This craze suddenly dropped with the introduction of IM’s like Whatsapp. You dont need BIS for them, Just a internet plan and your good to go. This came as a very big blow to BlackBerry. And unfortunately, The company couldn’t cope up with the changing trend.

The result was, a complete failure of Z10 and to some extent even Q10. So, Why did the company hit rock bottom so suddenly? In 2011-2013, Android was picking up at lightning speed. Local mobile manufacturers like Micromax and Karbonn took the advantage, and started selling device’s for very very less prices. Then came in the Samsung wave, that took over the premium segment market. Apple was virtually unaffected during this period. BlackBerry’s iconic keyboard and BBM suddenly lost interest. Now, Here’s the twist. Those who are real ‘Professionals’ stuck to BlackBerry. But those who bought a BB just because of ‘Trend’ and ‘Show-off’ migrated immediately. India is a very price sensitive market and BlackBerry took a lot of premium in devices, causing sales to crash against local competitors.

BlackBerry still has a large fan base in India. They mostly consist of busy men who dont have time for Selfie’s and Games. BlackBerry’s market share since 2013 has dropped significantly, But the company is still very well established in market. There are hardly any ‘BlackBerry Exclusive’ stores left in the country, but Service Center’s work flawlessly just like before.

When John Chen took over, BlackBerry’s reputation as an established company had been devastated. Consumer perception has completely changed. But the mind set that ‘BlackBerry is for professionals’ still exists and that’s what drives sales.

BlackBerry entered the fierce pricing battle along with the Z3. The low cost device was priced competitively, and did eat up a bit of premium. Which again helped the company in maintaining the brand image. The device sold exceptionally well, and the low-cost productivity men loved it.
It was even ranked number one device under INR 20,000 by leading newspaper Times of India.

Though Passport din’t sell like hot cakes, But it has been sold sufficiently well. Receiving positive reviews, the device can be termed a ‘HIT’.

There is a large user base of Bold and Curve users in the country, even in 2015. And majority of them are very happy with the launch of the Classic. In fact, Old users who had migrated to Android and iOS are now returning to the Classic. The device was exclusively launched by Snapdeal in the country, and the device was sold out within 24 hours.

The company has been on a roller-coaster ride in the country, but after a trench, it’s again climbing the mountain very well.


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