Mobile Web West Africa 2012 was great and I am happy to have made it to the event. The event was super charged. Yes, #MWWA 2012 is gone. There were several key take-aways and I’ll be sharing some of them on this blog.
Blackberry stole the show many times as expected. RIM was the sponsor of the developers day. Of course there were other companies and other superb presentations. Lelany Sommers, Blackberry representative from the UK, made a presentation on the first day, sharing some statistics and also announcing that RIM is opening an office in Nigeria. Finally!!! This is long overdue based on the company’s market presence in Nigeria.
As a tech entrepreneur and an investor, this is definitely not the time to judge Blackberry in Nigeria based on the crisis they are having globally. Sales may be dwindling and more people may be switching to other Smartphones but here in Nigeria, the love for Blackberry is increasing. According to Lelany, Blackberry is the number one selling smartphone in Nigeria. While many people may feel otherwise, there are explanations to this.
The Nigerian telecoms have a strong relationship with RIM. This is evident in the marketing drive most of the operators are putting behind the Blackberry devices. Since the first day RIM entered the Nigeria market through Glo Mobile, the operators have been marketing Blackberry devices and they still do event today. The success of iPhones and Androids in the North American market may have led to the demise of Nokia in that market but the major reason was because the Operators refused to sell or recommend Symbian phones and would rather recommend iPhones or Android devices. Even now that Nokia is trying to make a comeback with its devices running Windows 7 (the Lumia range), the influence by the Operators is still being felt in those markets.
For instance, when a buyer goes to an operator store to get a new phone, it is natural for the sales person to first recommend an Android or iPhone device. This is a barrier to other smartphones that may not be so loved. Here in Nigeria, it is a different story. We do not usually buy our phones via Operators and also our phones do not come highly subsidized with a contract from the Telcos. Even at that, Nigerian Telcos still love Blackberry and they put it in our face via adverts and promotions. And if you a developer, this is something that you have to consider.