September 28th, 2012
04:09 PM GMT
These are troubled times for Research in Motion (RIM), the makers of the BlackBerry handheld device.
Back in 2008 RIM was an $84 billion company, the darling of executives everywhere, students had BlackBerrys, and even President Obama admitted to being addicted to his BlackBerry, what some people were calling ‘crackberry’.
That was BA – before Apple, and the juggernaut that was the iPhone which launched in 2007. Now fast forward to 2012 and the stock price has been hammered to a 52 week low of $6.22, it’s a $3.25 billion company and some people are saying there may even be layoff in BlackBerry’s future.
There is a bright spot, however – and that bright spot is Africa, specifically Nigeria.
Waldi Wepener, RIM's regional director for Africa, told CNN’s Vladimir Duthiers Nigeria is a key market for the company.
“I think Nigerians are kind of entrepreneurial and social in spirit, which plays quite well to the always on, always connected services you get with RIM in terms of the push email, push services on facebook, twitter and particularly BlackBerry messenger as well,” he said.
According to Wepener, the luxury associated with the BlackBerry brand in Nigeria is also helping to drive sales.
“I think what else has been important for us is the kind of aspirational value of our brand in Nigeria.
"We work very closely with our carrier partners to produce tiered services to make data and the BlackBerry service more accessible to more Nigerians in the market.”
RIM’s focus on the Nigerian market is paying off, said Wepener – and is helping Nigerians stay connected at home and with family in other countries around the world.
“We’ve done exceedingly well in Nigeria – some stats to quote are that they believe there are 4 million smartphones connected in Nigeria of which 2 million are actually Blackberries. When you have a BlackBerry in Nigeria it shows you have arrived.
“We think its fantastic both that 56 million people globally are actually using BlackBerry messenger services but that we are also connecting millions of Nigerians both here and friends and families abroad.”
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