Threatened by rising popularity of rival smartphones, BlackBerry has finally enabled App World – official store for BlackBerry applications – in Pakistan, The Express Tribune has learned.
A telecom company official confirming the development did mention that Canada-based manufacturer of BlackBerry Research in Motion (RIM) did not officially communicate the development to the company.
BlackBerry users tweeted about the development on Twitter while Ufone sent text messages to its users informing them about access to App World. The news excited smartphone users who started downloading free apps causing BlackBerry Messenger Service as well as RIM’s server to go down for a short time during the day.
For paid apps users have to use BlackBerry Payment Service that requires a user to create a BlackBerry account allowing them to make payments through PayPal or Visa, said a user.
The source further said that RIM has enabled the App World in Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka to cover the entire region – App World was already available in India and the Middle East.
Responding to a question he said, the move was certainly driven by fierce competition the company is facing from Apple’s iPhone and particularly Android-powered smartphones, the official said.
The BlackBerry once dominated the North American market for smartphones, boasting more than a 50 per cent share of the market. But RIM’s position has steadily slipped and now sits just under 15 per cent in the United States, according to market research firm Neilsen. But the company continues to do well throughout the world where its BlackBerry Messenger service is popular, according to research group Canalys.
Smartphone usage is more about applications, according to experts. RIM was super slow to open its doors as iPhone and Android-powered phones gave its Pakistani users unlimited access to their application stores – Apple’s App Store and Android Marketplace, respectively.
The rise of other smartphones has already caused a great deal of damage to the market of Canadian smartphone maker. RIM announced a 71% drop in its revenues for the holiday quarter, according to The Guardian.
This development will certainly mend the company’s fast losing goodwill in the country at a time when its revenue from both its smart phone and tablet divisions are sliding. Not very long ago, Ufone and Mobilink subscribers were able to use Facebook and Twitter apps on their BlackBerry devices after the two companies developed a content filtering solution, another attempt to keep its users from shifting to other platforms.
RIM’s strengths lies in its BlackBerry Messenger, according to experts, which is one of the services that gave it a huge market share. Most of its customers are corporate official – some of whom heavily depend on its enterprise service including push-mail system for communication – and youth that like to communicate with friends on free BBM system. However, if it remains slow in response to the hypercompetitive market of Pakistan, critiques said, it may soon lose to its rivals.
The Express Tribune contacted RIM through email for their version, however, a reply was not received till filing of the story.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 2nd, 2012.