Thursday, November 14, 2013

BlackBerry losing ground in India

NEW DELHI: Smartphone maker BlackBerry is losing ground fast in India. The struggling Canadian company, which is working out a revival strategy amid deep losses, has seen sales in India — one of its few bright spots — go down sharply to less than 70,000 units in the third quarter of this year.

According to wholesale numbers tabulated by IDC, BlackBerry sold a little over 68,000 units in the July-September '13 quarter, which is 55% lower than 1.5 lakh units it sold in the preceding quarter. The decline was near-similar on a year-on-year basis as the company had sold 1.52 lakh units in the same quarter last year.















The numbers — which are the units sold by the company to its channel partners — should be alarming for BlackBerry, which counts India among the few markets where it still holds some sway over phone buyers. The company has been bringing in its latest devices (Q and Z series), running on its latest BB10 operating system and has even cut down prices of its Z10 phone sharply in late September from Rs 43,490 to Rs 29,990. However, this does not seem to have worked.

When contacted, IDC refused to confirm the numbers, saying it would give third quarter estimates only on Thursday as part of a larger industry report.
BlackBerry, on the other hand, refused to divulge the volumes, but said retail volumes (sold by dealers in the market) are higher than IDC-discovered wholesale numbers. "This data is factually incorrect. BlackBerry does not break our overall sales numbers by country, but we can confirm that our sell-out was significantly higher than the number quoted by you.



IDC captures sell-in numbers only, and is not a true reflection of actual sales-out to end customers," Varghese M Thomas, corporate communications director for India & Saarc region, said. "Furthermore, in Q3, we had only two BlackBerry 10 products in market namely Z10 and Q10, both of which were in the plus Rs 40,000 price category. Our Q5 and BlackBerry 9720 launches took place later in that quarter and hence is not an accurate measure of sales figures through a complete quarter."



The rapid growth in sales of devices running on the Google Android operating system as well as Apple's iPhone have gradually eaten into the market share of BlackBerry India which came tumbling down to a poor single-digit against the high 16% just a few years back.












While refusing to speak on the numbers, Manasi Yadav, senior market analyst at IDC, did comment on the recent performance of BlackBerry in India. "BlackBerry went wrong with the pricing of their new launches. Also, they were lagging behind in terms of aggressiveness and the marketing push required in this dynamic market," Yadav said.

Yadav said the company may still have a chance to come back, but this should be backed by a "strong and focussed strategy". "We have to wait and watch as to how Blackberry gets itself back in this game. Although it has lost considerable ground, I would not want to completely write it off already."

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