Waldi Wepener, regional director, Research in Motion (RIM) in this interview with Ben Uzor Jr gives insight into how the mobile phone manufacturer intends to garner more market share in Nigeria’s mobile device market. He also talks about the company’s financial performance and its plans to address the address the counterfeit market.
What’s important to look at is our performance over the last 18 months. Our fiscal 2011 which ended in February 2011 shows that RIM grew by 43 percent. During our fiscal Q1 2012 which was in February and March this year, we delivered over $1 billion in cash. This clearly shows that RIM is a strong business that is built on the foundation of product expertise and strong customer base. We now have more than 67 million BlackBerry (BB) subscribers worldwide. In the first three weeks of fiscal Q2, we added more than 1 million blackberry subscribers. With the introduction of the new devices offering and the new BlackBerry Operating System (OS), we are in a very good position to continue this growth.
Nigeria is an important market for us. It is one of the fastest growing markets globally for us at this stage. Certainly, with the introduction of the local entity or office in Nigeria towards the end of this year, we intend to invest significantly in terms of adding local resources. Besides, mobile penetration is growing in Nigeria. Available statistics show that it is presently more than 50 percent in the country. In addition, the smartphone device market is growing overall as well. From a RIM perspective, it is a fantastic opportunity for us to grow the business and we want to take advantage of this.
As a business, we are aware that there is a need to tailor our offerings to meet local needs and market requirement. It is particularly important to gain local market knowledge by employing local Nigerian resources. This explains why in the coming months we are setting up a local office here in Nigeria. At the same time, it is also important for us to ensure that our devices are localised and offer a wide range of local content and applications for the Nigerian consumer. For years, Nigeria was managed through our distribution channels. In the next six months, we will set up a local entity in Nigeria. We will employ new channel sales and marketing managers, regional directors. We will also work with application developers. We will use Nigeria as a hub for West Africa. We will see lot more activity in the area of marketing to accelerate growth in the market. We will aggressively drive into the youth segments. We have 67 million active blackberry subscribers and we see Nigeria as a key market and our revenue grew 43 percent first quarter of 2011. We see ourselves as an aspiration brand and we are working to expand our frontiers here. Nigeria is one of the fastest growing markets for us. Smartphone penetration is growing here in Nigeria. For us, we are entering Nigeria at the right time and we strongly believe that with our strong product offering we can further garner more market share in Nigeria’s smartphone market. We will be aggressive in our marketing activities with the introduction of a field marketing unit in August. We are confident that we will take significant market share in Nigeria. Our vision is to become the number one selling smartphone in the country.
Mobile application development
Blackberry 7 SBK has come a long way in terms of developing blackberry platform and local content for our mobile devices. What we need to do is to engage indigenous application developers to ensure that there is as much local content and application in our new devices. With the introduction of the blackberry 7 and the fantastic BBM platform which will application developers integrate their applications into BBM also enhancements to our already existing social networking apps like Facebook and twitter.
Blackberry tablet (PlayBook)
We do partner with the major Telecommunications Company and retail chains in market where we operate in. we certainly intend to step up the partnership and make playbook tablet available through as many channels as possible.
Grey and counterfeit market
It’s about consumer education. We intend to educate consumer around the full functionality of the blackberry devices so that they can use it to the full potential. We also want to make sure that customers are aware of what an original device looks like in terms of holograms on boxes, splash screen at start ups which is an application developed specifically for the local market. We also need to educate the consumers on the advantage of buying an original rather than grey or counterfeit device. For instance, in terms of repairs, consumers who buy original devices are backed by warranty and best-in-class after sale services.