BlackBerry is now the UK’s biggest smartphone vendor as the youth market spurred its growth over the busy Christmas period, with over 500,000 handsets sold in December alone. RIM UK managing director Stephen Bates explains the reasons for its success.
Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM), which develops BlackBerry phones, now has more than 28% market share across all smartphones in the UK, according to market research company GfK.
RIM attributes its success to its transition from a business-focused brand to become younger-facing, as apps such as BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) have seen mass-appeal from the teen market.
RIM’s UK managing director Stephen Bates says: “For the last couple of years BlackBerry was traditionally the mobile communications brand for business but we realised a lot of the communication fundamentals for business are relevant to the consumer market too.”
He adds that BlackBerry is also the “best” brand developers, saying its users engage more with its apps due to integrated “push” architecture that alerts users to new notifications, even if the app is not running in the foreground.
BBM is its most popular app with over 33 million users worldwide and BlackBerry is also the top smartphone for Twitter with over 6 million downloads, according to GfK.
Bates says: “We’re a major player to the development environment as we are an open marketplace for developers to access and offer services to those customers who resonate with having the ultimate communications device.”
RIM’s growth plans for 2011 include the launch of its first tablet device, the Blackberry PlayBook, which is due for UK launch later in the year.
Bates says the PlayBook’s user experience is “second to none” and it delivers the company’s key message of “mobile internet on the move” by bringing “the true internet” to mobile, with the full experience of HTML, Flash and development tools.
Bates says RIM also plans to explore mobile contactless payment this year with a view to developing the technology in time for the 2012 Olympics.
He adds: “We think this is a strong direction for the future, particularly in the UK, as we think the drive to have a contactless Olympics is quite strong and we are very excited about its potential.”
RIM has also announced plans to further develop its “social platform” and now allows brands to use BBM functions such as chat. invitations and content sharing in their own-branded applications.
BlackBerry top spot in numbers
Source: GfK December 2010
36% smartphone market share (UK #1)
23.3% contract/sim-free market share (UK #1)
51% pre-pay market share (UK #1)
14.9% total mobile handset market share
2 million BlackBerry apps downloaded every day