For years now, Africa has been a market BlackBerry has been paying attention to and according to a new independent study conducted by GeoPoll and World Wide Worx, that attention might end up paying off for BlackBerry. According to the study, BlackBerry could potentially move from a six percent market share in the region to a projected 16 percent.
Additionally, World Wide Worx and GeoPoll polled 3,500 mobile phone users in South Africa, Nigeria, Kenya, Ghana and Uganda (700 from each) and found 17 percent of phone users indicated they'd be going with BlackBerry as their next phone brand.
"BlackBerry introduced most of Africa to the idea of a smartphone, and for the first few years was the flagship brand for the category. They initially hit the market through companies who got contracts for their executives, but as new models were introduced the old BlackBerrys have entered the mass market, and are still regarded as a status symbol in much of Africa."
As the study notes, the hand-me-down effect suggests BlackBerry will retain its position as the third most popular phone brand, but it still faces some challenges from others in the area, most notably Samsung.
The big winner is Samsung, which is currently owned by 17% of respondents, up marginally from 14% ownership previously. When asked what phone will be bought next, the Samsung proportion shot up to 26%, more than a quarter of phone users.
I like these studies, but it certainly needs to be noted that they don't always translate into reality and often conflict with other studies. For example, the 2015 Student Tech Survey, conducted across South African tertiary education institutions also by World Wide Worx places BlackBerry in the number one spot among students but it also comes with a caveat.
BlackBerry's 32% keeps it in the number one spot in terms of brand of phone used by students, ahead of Samsung at 27% and Nokia at 21%. When asked for their brand preference regardless of affordability, one out of every two respondents chose the Apple iPhone. Samsung came in second at 29%, and Sony in third place at 9%.
All in all, the stats are interesting to see and it's fantastic that BlackBerry is appearing in such great numbers throughout the studies, but there's something missing from all the data as well that's likely on everyone's mind after reading this. What devices are they referring to here? The hand-me-down effect mention makes me think it's BlackBerry OS devices and they'll hopefully be moving into BlackBerry 10 devices but there's no hard data on that, so we're all left to guess.
If you're looking for more details on the study, you can check out the Inside BlackBerry blog but I also suggest watching this video from CNBC as well. It's a great 10 minute or so in-depth discussion on it that explains why the data is interesting but it's still not time to break out the champagne. You can also hop into the CrackBerry Forums to discuss it further.