Earlier this month, the BlackBerry Curve 8520 launched in India on a prepaid model. According to RIM executive Frenny Bawa, the 8520 “was designed with India in mind. It’s the lowest price BlackBerry we have ever launched and [with social networking trends in mind], it is loaded with dedicated multimedia keys and a trackpad.”
As RIM continues to grow in developing markets with great potential such as Latin America, countries such as India are key to a global strategy. According to Bawa, “India adds an average of 10 million new mobile phone subscribers a month. This is significant and, of course, RIM wants to participate in this growth.”
BlackBerry devices are selling well in India and the market could prove as a testing bed for successful sales strategies in a developing market. In the past year, RIM has increased its partners in India to 8, and tripled staff.
“One of the most significant changes is that we have tweaked our strategy to better suit the way the Indian consumer buys a smartphone,” said Bawa. RIM has partnered with Reddington India, a national distributor, to put BlackBerry devices into retail outlets across nine Indian cities instead of making them available only via carriers.
“Since then, the availability of BlackBerrys in India has mushroomed significantly,” said Bawa. “It was very obvious that we didn’t have the right distribution strategy. When we entered the Indian market [about five years ago], we were exporting the North American business model, which focused more on corporate users. Today, however, 45 per cent of our global users are consumers.”
It should be interesting to see what sort of strategies are needed to sell devices in Latin America and Africa. While prepaid is a major driving force behind sales, the price point is key as well. Perhaps we’ll see a resurgence of older models in the developing world.