BlackBerry Still No. 1 In South Africa, Nigeria

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Written by Dana Sanchez

Recent speculation that Samsung might buy BlackBerry has renewed interest in the Canada-based company, Phys.org reports.

BlackBerry’s share of the global smartphone market is less than 1 percent, down from a high of 20 percent in 2009, but in Africa’s leading economies, it’s still the most popular smartphone on the market,

In 2009, BlackBerry was second only to Nokia’s Symbian-based phones. But consumers in developing countries are not as fickle as their U.S. and European counterparts, according to Phys.org.

The most popular smartphone in South Africa for the last four years was the BlackBerry Curve 8520. The 8520, 9300 and 9320 models dominated top rankings in a recent South African Vodacom survey, owning 23 percent of the smartphone market.

The same goes for Nigeria, where BlackBerry commands 40 percent of the market.

Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM), first brought BlackBerry to the mobile market in 1999.

What is BlackBerry’s appeal for the developing world?

Several things. Africans tend to upgrade phones less often than people in developed markets. The most recent record-selling BlackBerry in South Africa is three years old, Phys.org reports. BlackBerry is a strong brand that people want to own — a status symbol. And it’s well suited to less capable mobile networks. Users like the fact that they can exchange messages free on BlackBerry Messenger.

A possible Samsung buyout could be more about the value of the BlackBerry’s intellectual property portfolio and less about a portfolio of smartphones popular in only a few countries, Phys.org reports.

This intellectual property includes the BBM instant messaging platform, real-time QNX operating system which the company bought in 2010, and its proprietary operating system. Designed specifically for embedded devices, QNX could be seen as a key property as the “Internet of things” develops, according to the report.