New Delhi: BlackBerrys have thus far remained the preserve of business users. Now, the maker of the BlackBerry, Research in Motion Ltd (RIM), is eyeing individual consumers in the world’s fastest growing mobile market.
On Tuesday, the Ontario, Canada-based company launched a full-featured BlackBerry Curve 8520 for Rs15,990. That, said an analyst, could make the product appeal to young people.
“India is a young market in that more than 50% of mobile phone users are under the age of 35. They are looking for a phone that fulfils both their enterprise and personal needs, including email as well as entertainment. This phone has made BlackBerry more approachable to 20-25-year-olds, who make up the largest chunk of high-end mobile users in the country,” said Naveen Mishra, analyst (communications research) at IDC India.
Initially, the new handset will only be available to customers of India’s largest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel Ltd, which will also offer pre-paid BlackBerry connections at Rs299. This is the first time pre-paid subscribers in India will have the option of accessing BlackBerry services.
The phone will be launched with other carriers soon, RIM said.
“Despite coming from an enterprise market, more than 50% of BlackBerry’s 28.5 million services subscribers worldwide (at the end of May) are from the consumer/prosumer market segment,” said Frenny Bawa, India vice-president at RIM.
RIM doesn’t report region-specific numbers.
Currently, the cheapest device available from the BlackBerry stable is the 8700g, which is a basic enterprise email device available for around Rs9,990. It has no camera or other multimedia features. The most expensive one is the BlackBerry Bold, which costs around Rs31,990.
BlackBerry also offers the Pearl series of phones that do not have a Qwerty-enabled keyboard and are available for Rs23,990. In early January, Vodafone Essar Ltd launched the BlackBerry Storm, a touchscreen phone, for Rs27,990.
According to research firm Gartner Inc., out of the 120 million mobile phones sold in India every year, 4-5% are smartphones, and Nokia has around 60-70% of the market share in this segment.