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Blackberry still ripe for UAE youth

Recent survey shows youth in the UAE still prefer Blackberry over other smartphone brands—but a failure to keep up with the times may shake the company's strong hold in the Emirates.

October 11, 2012 5:56 by

Findings of a recent survey suggest despite a decline on the global front, Blackberry still holds its own when it comes to the youth of the UAE. According to a survey conducted by Axiom Telecom, 65 percent of students questioned said they opted for a BlackBerry device in the past year with a paltry 16 percent indicating a preference for Apple and 11 percent, quite surprisingly, being partial to Nokia.

So why Blackberry? The survey found 67 percent said they opted for the Canadian brand because of its instant messaging capabilities, the BlackBerry Messenger. This has always been a source of appeal for the younger generation and the excellent data-packages offered by local telecoms for Blackberry phones has helped seal the deal. Instant messaging has been a major reason for brand loyalty, and judging by the findings, the current preference for Blackberry isn’t quite dying out: 46 percent say their next purchase will be produced by RIM.

Which is why RIM’s recent miserable global sales results make these results very interesting, indeed. Consider: Apple sold 5 million iPhone5s in the first weekend of its launch. On the other hand, between June 1st and August 31st RIM sold 7.4 million smartphones and 130,000 playbook tablets, compare that to the 26 million iPhones, Apple sold last quarter between April 1 and June 30.

Not only are sales on the decline, but the global market share for RIM, the once market leader and darling of smartphones, is dropping and it is dropping hard. Within a year, RIM went from boasting of a profit of $934 million to a loss of $125 million, this March.

What is at the core of this decline? Opinions are divided. On one hand, experts say RIM’s inability to keep up with the times is setting it back from other smartphone makers. In keeping with the argument of a lack of innovation, there is also the claim RIM focuses more on the professional aspects over the personal for its phone. Others say it is a failure to introduce enough applications fast enough to keep up with its Android and Apple counterparts.

Could an answer to these problems in come in the form of Blackberry 10, the new operating system RIM has been promising to launch for months now? It is tough to say, but if the youth of the UAE is anything to go back, there is a dire urgency for the company to get its foot back in the game. After all, despite their Blackberry fondness, the Axiom survey also found out that almost 39 percent of UAE youth are looking to buy an Apple for their next smart phone purchase. An inability to develop and keep with the times, may see RIM losing out on its already strong foothold here in the Emirate.

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