Indonesia has long been a surprising jewel in the crown of BlackBerry, a rare market where its devices enjoyed mass appeal. But the country also highlights the struggling company’s failure to embrace the emerging economies that are leading smartphone sales growth across the globe.
Indonesia is still one of BlackBerry’s biggest markets, accounting for about 15% of global users but its share of smartphone sales in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy has fallen fast to 21% in the second quarter from 39% a year earlier, according to data from telecoms consultancy IDC.
Industry experts say BlackBerry was too slow to capitalize on its handsets’ popularity with ordinary Indonesians, a clientele far removed from its traditional corporate and government “CrackBerry” users, a mistake that offers lessons for rivals like Apple and Samsung Electronics.
“Indonesia was an opportunity lost – and at what cost,” said a former BlackBerry executive familiar with the company’s strategy, who declined to be identified as he did not want to jeopardize business ties with his ex-employer.
As smartphone prices fall and the number of global users rises, companies must either focus on niche markets, like Apple does with its high-end devices, or rapidly roll out a wide range of products at prices that would appeal to all customers, a strategy market leader Samsung has wielded with much success.
BlackBerry’s stuttering approach meant it did neither.
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