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Gadgets Mobile

What’s Your BB PIN?

blackberry babes“What’s your BB pin?”

The question is the ultimate social status badge for many young, urban Nigerians. Standing in front of a row of gleaming BlackBerry handsets in a Lagos phone shop, sales assistant Remi Olajuwon explained: “The average Nigerian has a very healthy interest in status and luxury. So if somebody asks for your BlackBerry pin and you don’t have one …” she trailed off with a dismissive flick of her false eyelashes.

Retailing at between $200 (£126) and $2,000 in a country where most live on less than $2 a day, the cost alone made it a status symbol, she added. “People come in to buy one just to show they’ve been promoted.”

Amid sagging sales in Europe and North America, developing markets offer a ray of hope for Research in Motion (RIM), after the maker of BlackBerry posted a $235m loss for the latest quarter. In Nigeria, South Africa and Egypt, Africa’s three biggest economies, BlackBerrys outsold smartphone competitors this quarter. Kenya and Ghana also had buoyant sales, officials said.

Around one sixth of Africa’s 620 million active phone subscribers come from Nigeria. Half of Nigeria’s 4 million smartphone owners use BlackBerrys, and use among the wealthiest segment of society is forecast to increase sixfold by 2016.

“There’s a misconception Africans only want cheap phones [but] Nigeria is a key market for us. We’re seen as an aspirational product,” said RIM regional director Waldi Wepenerlast month, after the company opened its first Nigerian store in Lagos’s computer village, a sprawling haven for tech junkies.

With its image increasingly outdated elsewhere, RIM hopes to capitalise on Nigeria’s twin obsessions with status and communication. BlackBerry-related dramas flood newspapers’ agony aunt pages. On social websites, debate rages as to whether a bride photographed using her phone during her wedding ceremony was reading an e-Bible, or was merely a BlackBerry addict. The Nollywood film industry, whose clunkily named movie titles are a good cultural barometer and include delights such as the “Fazebook Babes” series, has recently spawned the hit multisequel “BlackBerry Babes”. The comedy follows a group of scantily clad university girls obsessed with getting the latest phones.

The popularity of BlackBerrys in Nigeria is partly born of necessity. Erratic internet services and a nonexistent landline network are plugged by unlimited data bundles, costing about £12 a month. Unpredictable phone networks force those who can afford it to own two handsets.

“I already have another smartphone, but I need a BlackBerry pin number to socialise with friends and get babes. BlackBerry has an edge because of the pinging,” George Emeka, a university student said, using the colloquial term for its instant messaging service.

Others are getting more bang for their buck. Yahya Balogun, who lives in a Lagos slum, used eight months of savings to buy a secondhand model. The taxi driver has caught on to the growing number of high-end businesses who advertise and communicate using BlackBerry pin numbers as well as traditional means. “All my clients in [upmarket district] Victoria Island own BlackBerrys. It is a good investment,” Balogun said.

In his rundown district where extended families squeeze into single rooms, neighbours frequently browse on his phone. “My daughter can use the internet [for schoolwork],” said neighbour Tosin Alabi, his face lit by the screen’s blue glow during a recent powercut. “Personally myself I can never pay 1,000 naira [£4] every week for internet. And the battery is terrible when I can go for two days without charging my own phone,” he added, indicating a battered Nokia feature phone.

Nokia’s low-cost phones remain the top overall sellers across Africa, though affordable mid-range mobiles could also erode RIM’s top-end dominance, analysts say. Last year, Chinese manufacturer Huawei gobbled up almost half of Kenya’s smartphone market with the launch of its $100 devices powered by Google’s Android software. RIM has felt the heat in South Africa, where, unlike Nigeria, mobile carriers offer packages with Apple iPhones. “You’re only with it if you have an iPhone, preferably the iPhone 5, or Samsung Galaxy SIII,” said Khayakazi Mgojo, based in Pretoria.

A three-day loss of service across Africa and parts of Europe last year was the final straw for some. “I switched because BlackBerry was frustrating me with all its constant freezing at the most inconvenient times, short battery life and the daily reboots,” Mgojo said. Nevertheless she added: “I still use it for social network because it’s cheap compared to buying data bundles.”

RIM hopes to bat away growing competition in its most important African markets by releasing its jazzed up BlackBerry 10 software in South Africa and Nigeria at the same time as other global markets next year. “At a time when Nokia is strengthening its distribution arm in Nigeria and Apple has recently appointed its first official distributor … the opening of the first BlackBerry-branded retail store is a logical step [to remain] the country’s No 1 smartphone vendor,” said Nick Jotischky, an analyst with Informa Telecoms & Media.

And for the consumer there still seems a popular groundswell for RIM’s best known product. Manzo George, a businessman who owns three BlackBerrys, said he had no plans to switch over to an Android phone anytime soon. “When people ask me why not try a new brand smartphone, I tell them there are smartphones and then there are BlackBerrys.”

Outsmarted

The once mighty BlackBerry is no longer a status symbol in western markets, but RIM hopes for a revival on 30 January with the release of its new operating system, BlackBerry 10.

Caught in the crossfire between Apple and Android, RIM has lost market share. Its devices excel at email and instant messaging, making them popular with younger users who cannot afford big phone bills, but the company has been left behind because of its failure to create a smartphone that can efficiently navigate the wider web.

RIM’s worldwide market share stood at nearly 20% in 2009, says research firm Gartner, but has now fallen to 5%. While smartphone sales are booming, RIM’s shipment volumes have fallen 57% in a year, according to IDC resaerch. In June the firm reported its first operating loss since 2004, and set out plans to shrink its headcount by a third, shedding 5,000 jobs.

Source

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Top Apps On Offer On Google Play For Only N40!

As Google play witnesses the 25 billionth download on its Google Play app store, top apps are being offered to all and sundry for only 25 cents (N40)! You will recall a similar discount offer that took place only last December 2011 when Google Play witnessed the 10 billionth download, and it offered apps for just 10 cents.

The apps would be available for this price for only 5 days, so hurry!!!

Though unconfirmed as of the time of filing this report, Apple has witnessed at least 30 billion downloads from its App store but has not being known to offer such discounts at any time.

Google Play is very much accessible from Nigeria using Visa or Mastercard credit or debit cards from all the major banks.

Below is an official statement from the Google Android team;

Whether you’re looking for directions, checking email or sharing a picture with friends, apps are now an indispensable part of life. And if you’re using Android, it all starts with Google Play, home to 675,000 apps and games. That’s a lot of choice. We’ve now crossed 25 billion downloads from Google Play, and to celebrate we’re offering some great discounts for the next five days.

Every day you’ll be able to choose from a collection of apps from some of the world’s top developers including Gameloft, Electronic Arts, Rovio, runtastic, Full Fat and more. And all for just 25 cents. We’ll also be offering some special collections like 25 movies you must own, 25 banned books, 25 albums that changed the world and our 25 top selling magazines, all at special prices. Visit Google Play a little later today to check them out.

Twenty-five billion is more than twice the distance, in miles, that the Voyager 1 spacecraft has travelled since its launch 35 years ago. It’s the amount of time, in minutes, that have passed since some of our earliest ancestors began to set foot in Europe. And now, thanks to all of you, it’s a Google Play milestone. We look forward to the next 25 billion.

Expectedly, yours truly has snatched up a number of these apps already. “Awuff no dey run belle !”

Categories
Gadgets Mobile

Blackberry Blues

As a very late adopter of RIM’s Blackberry services, I was just settling down to get high on the proverbial “Crackberry”. Alas, this is not going to be and already, buyer’s remorse is already setting in.

It started out with the usual delay in getting the BIS service enabled on my ergonomically friendly albeit cheap Blackberry Curve 8520. It took calls to a personal friend in Nigeria’s Glo to hasten the process.

Secondly, the grass is definitely not greener elsewhere. Blackberry Internet services is just as slow as other Internet packages. The major reason I settled for the non-3G Blackberry 8520. 3G is almost non existent anyway.

At N2,800 ($18) per month, BIS full monthly subscription on Glo mobile network in Nigeria is still expensive. Unfortunately, the crippled variants of the BIS packages being offered by Glo just do not fit the bill for me. The N1400 ($9) per month “comonth-single email account” option is definitely not good enough.

But I guess the greatest spoiler is the Blackberry outage that took the best of 3 days to resolve. Expectedly, I was quick in putting all the blame on Glo’s doorstep. Glo was however also quick in dissociating itself with the text message it sent out to its subscribers;

Dear subscriber, RIM is presently experiencing some technical issues which affects all carriers in Europe, Middle East & Africa. This has led to temporary BlackBerry service disruption. Full services will be restored as soon as RIM resolves the issues.Glo!

So much for getting high on crackberry!

Posted with WordPress for BlackBerry.