Blackberry still King of Nigeria

While Blackberry sales all of the world are tanking, it seems that the Canadian outfit has won the hearts and minds of the people of Nigeria.

According to CNBC Nigeria is one place in the world where Blackberry has not cocked up and it still has nearly half the market.

In fact BlackBerry remains the most popular smartphone on the African continent. A recent survey by South African research firm World Wide Worx showed that BlackBerry now owns 23 percent of the cell phone market in South Africa, up from 18 percent last year. The company also owns 40 percent of the smartphone market in Nigeria, where the company recently announced its first “official” branded retail store on the African continent. More than a third of Africans saying they plan to buy a BlackBerry next year.

The young want them. According to another study of the South African market by World Wide Worx, 57 percent of college students own BlackBerrys. This is probably because of the company’s low-cost data packages and free messaging service, which make the smartphone an affordable status symbol for that age group and potentially a transition market for BlackBerry device growth as their spending power grows and BlackBerry continues to expand its upgraded devices.

Analysts are also expecting the smartphone market in Africa will grow driven by improved international connectivity, rollout of mobile broadband networks and greater availability of smartphones.

The average smartphone user in Nigeria today spends 2.5 hours a week browsing the Internet on their smartphone and a similar amount of time using social media. That same consumer will carry out three e-commerce transactions a week on their smartphone.

But much of it depends how much Blackberry can do to hold down its prices. BlackBerry sales in Africa have dropped about 50 percent from 18 months ago and that was due to price. Blackberry has had to deals with Foxconn and take a margin cut to make sure that the situation does not get worse.

The company’s strategy in Africa has been to collaborate with regional carriers, offering flat-rate unlimited data plans through BlackBerry Internet Services (BIS) that include push email and messaging. This, coupled with BlackBerry’s position as the platform of choice for enterprise mobile devices in Africa, means the company will continue to enjoy top position in the region in the short-to-medium term, at least according to IDC.