Windows Phone and Android are the hot platforms in South Africa as iOS and BlackBerry show no growth
In what could be a very negative sign for BlackBerry, growth has disappeared in one of the countries that still holds the platform in high standing. To make matters worse, Windows Phone is picking up momentum. We are talking about South Africa. In June of 2012, South Africans voted BlackBerry the “coolest brand,” “Coolest Cell Phone,” and “Coolest Hi-Tech Gadget” of 2012. During the second quarter of last year, BlackBerry was the number one smartphone platform in the country and the company had 6 of the top 10 smartphone models. To show you how highly the BlackBerry name was thought of in South Africa as recently as last year, the 6 athletes from the country that received gold medals in the 2012 Summer Olympics each received a limited edition BlackBerry Bold 9900 in gold.
But what has happened to BlackBerry since then? According to numbers supplied by Vodacomm, one of South Africa’s largest carriers, the number of BlackBerry owners on its network remained flat between May and July at 3.1 million. At the same time, the number of Windows Phone subscribers soared 47% from May 2013 to July 2013, rising from 150,000 to 220,000. Yes, the platform had a much smaller base it was starting from, but the momentum has clearly shifted. This is the kind of statistic that both Microsoft CEO Steven Ballmer and Nokia CEO Stephen Elop should be crowing about.
Another company showing no growth in the country was Apple with iOS subscribers staying flat from May to July at 600,000 users for Vodacomm. Lastly, Android showed some decent, if not spectacular growth, as its subscriber base on the pipeline rose to 1.2 million from 1 million for a 20% increase.
Nokia certainly has the low-end Nokia Lumia 520 to thank for its strong growth in the area. At this stage, even a low priced Apple iPhone Lite seems destined to be priced too high to compete with Windows Phone in this region. Microsoft and Nokia have found a niche of the market, in one country at least, that they can grow with and at the same time, hurt Apple and BlackBerry. In Redmond and in Espoo this is called a “perfect storm”.