In the run up to the launch of BlackBerry 10, many bloggers/journalists are still very sceptical about RIM's success looking into the future. Over the last year or so many have slated this may be to due to the decline in BlackBerry sales in North America. But the U.S. is only a small part of the world.
We have featured BlackBerry news from Africa more frequently over the last few months and things in that neck of the woods are going great for RIM. Take Nigeria for example - there are 4 million smartphone users in Nigeria and 46% of them use a BlackBerry. That's a big chunk of marketshare from where i'm sitting.
Having a BlackBerry has almost become a status symbol in Nigeria and you can't really blame them. It may well be a cost thing as RIM offer both high and low range BlackBerry smartphones and it seems that Apple have not yet made their mark in the country - again, this could be down to the price of hardware.
BBM is clearly a big part of the attraction. 95% of Nigerian BlackBerry users take advantage of BlackBerry Messenger which is a lot higher than the global average. With a free or low cost instant messaging client on most Nigerian carriers it makes perfect sense that using the service and having a PIN is almost more important than actually having a phone number.
"The BlackBerry has become a product central in the aspirations of a lot of Nigerians, but, crucially, one which is affordable," says Waldi Wepener, RIM regional director.
"The most common misconception about what we do here is that we are mainly selling the cheaper models. The reality is that there is a hierarchy even within the BlackBerry owning class and we sell right the way through the range from $200 to $500 handsets," Mr Wepener says.
So while we only have just over 60 days to go until the official BB10 launch event I think that the stats from Nigeria are living proof that BlackBerry 7 is going to be around for some years to come. Although there will be a transition to BlackBerry 10, RIM will need to provide low cost handsets to cater for certain parts of the world. I somehow suspect they may already have this in the works though. They seem to be doing everything else right on the run up to launch.