It’s no secret that Indonesia is an incredible market for RIM and BlackBerrys. The country has an incredibly talented, young and mobile-based population that has really taken to RIM’s smartphone. Recently, RIM chose Malaysia as the center for its East-Asian BlackBerry manufacturing and while the terms of the deal may have been sweet, RIM might have missed on a huge growth opportunity in Indonesia. More after the jump.
Left to right: David Jollimore, Senior Director of Global Manufacturing at RIM, Randolph Mank, High Commissioner of Canada to Malaysia, Dany Bolduc, Vice President of Malaysia at RIM, Douglas Bingeman, Trade Commissioner of Canadian High Commission, and Zabidah Daud, Director of Malaysian Industrial Development Authority have their hands on the BlackBerry Curve 3G smartphones fresh off the assembly line at the new manufacturing plant in Penang, Malaysia.
The Capital Investment-Coordinating Board (BKPM) of Indonesia has come out saying that Indonesia would be a more suitable location for the manufacturing of BlackBerrys. If you’re a developer or blogger, you would certainly agree as Indonesia represents a much higher volume of downloads and interest in BlackBerry products than Malaysia. In terms of device sales, it’s clear that Indonesia is the bigger market. Sales of BlackBerry smartphones in Indonesia is expected to reach 4 million units with a value of US$300 per unit next year. This is compared with the annual sales of 400,000 units in Malaysia.
RIM’s decision to move to Malaysia was probably logical and the company surely tested Indonesian markets for manufacturing, but perhaps the decision was a bit shortsighted on RIM’s behalf. It’s hard to say without knowing the terms of the deal or what the Indonesian government and private sector could offer RIM in terms of price and quality. What we do know, is that Indonesians pride themselves on being self-sufficient and have very low imports. The country has consistently ran a trade surplus and it looks like this trend will continue. If RIM chose to make the manufacturing center in Indonesia, it would certainly guarantee a very large Indonesian market for the foreseeable future as Indonesians would see the product as a local smartphone. Perhaps this investment alone would help RIM weather any poor sales in other regions as the country’s population is young and would continue buying the devices over a long period. Also, it leaves the possibility of another smartphone opening a manufacturing plant in Indonesia which could shift the market and RIM would lose an enormous customer base. Only time will tell.