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Why BlackBerry needs an entry-level BB10 phone so desperately

Published Jul 23rd, 2013 2:15PM EDT
BlackBerry Market Share

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It’s pretty interesting that 3% of BlackBerry users globally are Nigerian. But it’s downright shocking that more than 18% of BlackBerry’s entire worldwide subscriber base resides in Indonesia. TechinAsia reports that Indonesia has now 15 million BlackBerry users, with half of them at the dominant Telkomsel mobile carrier. Telkomsel has more than 120 million subscribers so it is one of Asia’s heavyweights, though less well known to Americans than DoCoMo or China Mobile. BlackBerry has spent $5 million on building an innovation center in Indonesia to bolster local app development efforts — and now we know why.

This is a concrete example of how dependent BlackBerry now is on emerging market demand. The fate of the company rests on the triangle formed by Africa, Middle East and South East Asia.

BlackBerry’s presence in giant markets like India and China is so thin that it simply has to maintain strong momentum in Indonesia, the Philippines and Malaysia to survive. And this is where we get to the most burning question concerning BlackBerry: When is the first low-end BlackBerry 10 model going to arrive?

The mid-range BlackBerry Q5 is far too pricey at $400 to compete with the $100 Android QWERTY devices now flooding Asian markets. BlackBerry needs a $200 model out there this autumn — and there is absolutely no indication that such a device getting close to production right now. In fact, according to a recent BGR exclusive, the only new BlackBerry 10 phone left on the 2013 roadmap is the high-end BlackBerry A10 that will square up against the likes of the iPhone 5S, the Galaxy Note III and other top-tier phones this fall.

After launching mobile game company SpringToys tragically early in 2000, Tero Kuittinen spent eight years doing equity research at firms including Alliance Capital and Opstock. He is currently an analyst and VP of North American sales at mobile diagnostics and expense management Alekstra, and has contributed to, Forbes and Business 2.0 Magazine in addition to BGR.

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