Nokia and Blackberry Not Dead in South Africa

  • August 23, 2012
  • Tech
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Nokia and Blackberry Not Dead in South Africa

The rest of the world loves its Samsung and Apple mobile phones, but in South Africa, Nokia and BlackBerry remain kings. Despite a sharp drop in market share worldwide, both brands are thriving in the region. According to the 2012 Mobile Consumer in South Africa report, Nokia is the leading cellphone brand among urban South Africans aged 16 and over. The Finnish brand dominates 50 percent of the market and is expected to retain the top spot until the end of next year. BlackBerry trails behind Nokia with a market share equal to Samsung’s, at 18 percent. BlackBerry’s market share rose from 4 percent at the end of 2010, while Samsung’s market share dropped from its previous 28 percent. A sign of strong brand loyalty comes from 16 percent of mobile phone users saying they intend to buy a BlackBerry in the future. This prompted World Wide Worx Managing Director Arthur Goldstuck to say that the death of the BlackBerry “remains a myth” in South Africa, as is the case in other developing markets.

The Smartphone Race

The smartphone segment is still dominated by BlackBerry despite the top tier of the market switching to the iPhone or the recently launched Samsung Galaxy S3. Almost half of all the smartphones (4.8 million out of 10 million) sold in South Africa are BlackBerry devices, according to data compiled by World Wide Worx. Goldstuck said that the “cool factor” of BlackBerry models like the Curve is partly behind the brand’s continued popularity, especially among young people aged 16 to 25. Nokia takes second place with about 4 million smartphones sold, mostly containing the Symbian operating system. Android smartphones sold around 800,000 units, while the iPhone sold less than 400,000 units.

The iPhone remained a gadget for the elite and maintained one percent market share, although respondents in the Mobility 2012 project reported purchase intentions that indicated a boost in market share to six percent in the next 18 months. Goldstuck said that this was twice the brand momentum expected for Apple at the end of 2010, but sales that could have captured 3 percent market share were nonexistent. Goldstuck added that the iPhone continues to be out of reach for many South Africans, while the BlackBerry is a “reachable aspiration.”

Other Brands

Other mobile phone brands also experienced significant changes in terms of market share. LG maintained its 5 percent market share but slipped from rank 3 to rank 4. Motorola’s ranking dropped from 5 to 2 as its market share plummeted from 11 percent to 2 percent in 18 months. China-based ZTE has its feature-packed budget devices to thank for claiming a surprise 2 percent market share, the same as Motorola. Sony-Ericsson dropped to 1 percent from 2 percent market share, while HTC was pegged at 1 percent. Goldstuck said that HTC’s market share is expected to double in the following year, but Motorola, LG and Sony face grim prospects. All three are expected to skim bottom with less than one percent market share, “unless something drastic happens to revitalise the brands,” said Goldstuck.

Data for the Mobility SA 2012 project came from face-to-face interviews with adult South African cellphone users living in towns and cities. The study was conducted in June 2012 using a sample that represents the national population. The study has two parts: the Mobile Consumer in SA 2012 that investigated mobile phone usage and banking trends, and the Mobile Internet in SA 2012 that investigated trends in internet and data usage.

Worldwide Trends

Connecticut-based analyst Gartner reported that there were 419 million mobile phones sold worldwide in the second quarter of 2012, down 2.3 percent from the previous year. Smartphone sales compose 36.7 percent of all devices sold (154 million units), a growth of 42.7 percent. Not surprisingly, the dominant brands were Apple and Samsung, accounting for 83 percent of overall smartphone sales. Samsung leads the smartphone segment with 99 million units sold. In comparison, Apple sold almost 29 million units of its iOS-based iPhone devices. Android devices claimed 64 percent of the smartphone market, while iOS iPhone devices claimed 18.8 percent.

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