In this commentary, Nick Horton, Managing Director for Middle East and North Africa, BlackBerry defends the company as the undisputable leader in the region.
With smartphone penetration in the Middle East amongst the highest in the world, it is expected that growth will be faster than the EMEA average over the next five years. The UAE is ranked amongst the top markets for smartphone subscribers, and we see this trend continuing as populations grow and people transition from feature phones to smart devices.
The Middle East also continues to be one of the strongest regions for BlackBerry globally, and we remain highly competitive in the smartphone market in this region. According to data provided by research firm GfK, BlackBerry was the #3 best-selling brand in the UAE in August this year. Additionally, 98 percent of all BlackBerry users in the UAE use BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) to stay in contact with their networks, families, friends and colleagues, one of the highest customer use rates in the world. As such, this is an extremely important country to us and we continue to ensure we are committed to investing in it – for example, the UAE was one of the key launch markets for our BlackBerry 10 smartphone range, including the BlackBerry Z10, Q10, Q5 and the new BlackBerry Z30.
We are seeing an increasing demanding from our customers to stay connected and be productive while on the move and our company’s heritage is built on consumer users and business leaders that value productivity and connectivity as their top priorities during the day – whether this be their corporate emails or even their social media networks. We continue to work with our partners in the UAE to deliver BlackBerry 10 to our target markets in a variety of ways – through the channel, in-store and online. Now more than ever, we want to ensure our users gain access to the technologies, features and applications that will allow them to work more efficiently.
We work with our carrier partners to ensure that BlackBerry subscription plans for both our enterprise and consumer customers are highly competitive and support the high roaming trend of our Saudi customers. We have established strong distribution and retail networks that allow us to provide BlackBerry to our customers in everything from the largest electronic retailers to the smallest souk shops. We also work with government organisations, local businesses and media organisations to create innovative mobile computing solutions that benefit the community as a whole, such as utility bill payment app for the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority and an Abu Dhabi police app to help the public reach police services on the go.
Supporting all of this is a large and varied app ecosystem, which we are extremely dedicated to. BlackBerry has apps – lots of apps. When we launched BlackBerry 10 earlier this year, we launched with more than 70,000 apps – the highest number for any first generation platform. Now, there are more than 130,000 applications for BlackBerry 10 customers in the BlackBerry® World mobile app storefront. We support more than 150 Middle East app developer partners who have been instrumental in our success across the region. In fact, users in the Middle East region download more BlackBerry 10 apps than any of our other markets. KSA leads this trend with UAE in the third place.
BlackBerry has a strong international brand and we believe that there is still plenty of room for growth in this industry. We remain steadfast in our commitment to our customers and partners in the UAE. In a world where choice is king, we have the secure technology and services that users need – no matter what device or platform they have chosen – to keep people moving at home, at work and on the go. Our business is more than just devices – it is software, hardware and services.
At BlackBerry we believe in a future where mobile computing is the driving force behind a more intelligent and responsive world. A world where the only computing power you need is in the palm of your hand. The proliferation of mobile devices and the increased intelligence built into connected products creates unprecedented opportunity to bring the future of mobile computing to life – today. While there is much work to do, here in the UAE we are striving every day to make this vision a reality. We are a part of the most competitive and fastest-moving industry on the planet – the next phase will be very exciting for all of us.