The Middle East is a “priority market” for launching BlackBerry 10
The Middle East is a “priority market” for launching BlackBerry 10. Frank Boulben, the newly appointed chief marketing officer at RIM, said one or more countries in the Middle East would be included in the initial launch of BlackBerry 10.
“The Middle East will be one of our priority markets for the launch of BlackBerry 10,” he said. “We will be launching globally in the early part of 2013, during the first quarter.”
He said RIM was in talks with Middle East mobile-phone operators regarding the launch of the first BlackBerry 10s in the region.
Mr Boulben said it was too early to specify which regional countries would be included in the initial launch as the timing of the roll-out depended on negotiation with regional telecommunications companies.
“That is something we are currently agreeing with the respective wireless carriers,” he said.
“By the end of September we will have chosen our exact launch date country-by-country.”
One beacon of hope for RIM has been the Middle East, where it says the number of BlackBerry subscribers is growing exponentially.
“In the last fiscal year our growth was 110 per cent year-on-year,” said Mr Boulben.
“This is our fastest-growing region alongside South America, South Africa and Indonesia.”
That 110 per cent growth rate, cited by the research firm GfK, is likely to decrease because it is not sustainable, said Mr Boulben.
However, he added the sales performance still represented “spectacular growth” in the region.
“I wouldn’t call it a slowdown. Mechanically, the population is limited … So we cannot continue and grow exponentially with those rates. So I expect them to decrease a bit but still it’s fantastic growth,” he said.
Features of BB10 will include the ability to switch between applications without returning to the home screen and an “intelligent keyboard” that will learn a user’s particular way of typing.
Analysts cast doubt on whether this was enough to rescue RIM from its struggles.
“It looks like BB10 will have some distinctive features and will represe
nt a big advance on RIM’s current, ageing smartphone operating system. But it’s not certain BB10 will be sufficient to rescue RIM’s fortunes,” said Matthew Reed, a senior analyst at Informa Telecoms & Media in Dubai.
Mr Reed added the delay in launching BB10 until the first quarter of next year could also hurt the brand.
“The likelihood is that in the meantime RIM’s position in the smartphone market globally will continue to deteriorate, which could undermine the popularity it still has in the Middle East.”