Apple iPhone boosts Jamaican smartphone usage as BB goes Chapter 11 Bankruptcy

The news is now in folks; Jamaicans are ditching Blackberries left, right and center for Smartphones. This based on statistics from Google Trends and Alexa gleaned by the Jamaica Gleaner published Sunday May 20th, 2012.

Google Trends and Alexa know this, mind you, as they base their findings for Jamaica on Tags attached to emails and Google search requests that positively identify the Phone i.e. “Sent by Google Android” if from a Google Android Phone or “Sent by Blackberry” if from a Blackberry.

iphone 4 black and white

Straight to the punch line folks. Since January 2012AD:

  • Smartphone usage has increased to account for 50% of the Mobile Market for high-end phones in Jamaica
  • Apple iPhone moved from 25% to 33% of the market when comparing 2011AD to 2012AD Trend Data
  • 25% of these Smartphone in Jamaica are Samsung, overtaking Nokia since 2011AD

Please note this trend relates to the second purchasers of a Smartphone, as having used the Blackberry, its limitations become obvious and hence the switch to Smartphones. This as Smartphones can stream Video via 3G and Wi-Fi, are optimized with better browsers and have faster processors. Making them the new status symbol that says you’re smart as concluded in StudyBlue reveals Smartphones, Tablets make you smarter – The Big Bang Theory on Google.

The Blackberry, once popular with Jamaicans because they are as tough as we are as noted in Android Smartphones may be king in 2015AD, but RIM Blackberry quality shines are now relegated to being phones that Jamaican men buy for their girlfriends (or girl on the side?!) to keep track of them [Hint: pre-installed GPS App].

Women, gullible as they are, accept these expensive toys as tokens of appreciation, not realizing that the Blackberry makes THEM easily trackable. Especially if you never purchased the BB yourself and it’s a gift from a friend in the US. Worse if the Blackberry Data Plan which you can get by following the instructions in How to Set Up a Prepaid or Postpaid Blackberry Plan on your BB for LIME or Digicel was not yours.

So it would seem that Jamaicans are not into Smartphones, catching the “tech-itis” disease from our American, European and Canadian counterparts. A follow-on of the trends in the US since 2010AD when Americans began ditching their BB’s for Droids as noted in Motorola and the Xoom – The Empire Strikes Back.

So badly has the Blackberry’s popularity in the US waned that the maker of the Blackberry, Toronto, Canada based RIM (Research in Motion) is soon to file for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy by Thursday June 28th 2012.

A few quick stats about RIM’s dire straits:

  • In May 2011AD, RIM traded at US$70 on the NYSE on Tuesday 29th, 2012 now goes for US$11.23, a loss of 75% the past twelve (12) months. The slide continues….
  • RIM has lost 90% since the 90’s, worth only about US$5.2 billion dollars, down from US$78 billion dollars
  • RIM’s  liquid cash base is US$2.1 billion in the Fourth Quarter of 2011AD

One thing is for sure though here in Jamaica; RIM is dying from a lack of innovation and an awakening among Jamaicans for High-Speed Mobile Data, which you can access as per my article How to Access LIME or Digicel’s 3G Internet using an unlocked Huawei E1556 Modem Dongle or Nokia Modem Dongle.

We have one company to thank for this new trend: CLARO Jamaica and the Apple iPhone 3G. Even after being gobbled up by Digicel as chronicled in CLARO’s Freeness ends 5th January 2012 – Digicel’s Bigger, Better with Data and Cloud, people had already been exposed to the idea of Mobile Data, Free Local and International Calling and Flat Rate Cross Network Calling.

Also statistics from OUR (Office of the Utilities Regulation) for the period 2009AD to 2011AD indicate the true effect of CLARO Jamaica on the Local Telecoms Sector with an increase demand for Mobile Data, Fixed and Mobile Landline and Postpaid.

This concept in itself is a powerful thing; the idea that it’s possible in Jamaica, Inception (2011) style to have the above services which were privy only to Americans. And Jamaicans have not let it go of this idea that CLARO Jamaican helped to pollinate in the minds of Jamaicans.

The realization that low-cost of Free Calling, especially International Calling is possible is reason why Digicel is trying to grandfather people away from Gimme 5 Free International Calling. This by introducing either the JA$8.99 Flat Rate Calling Plan for Prepaid as explained in Digicel Introduces One Rate Calling for $8.99 in Jamaica and Anywhere Calling Plan for Postpaid as explained in Digicel intros the Anywhere Plan for Postpaid.

LIME certainly has not dropped the ball that CLARO threw into the Jamaican court, the “ball” here being the Apple iPhone. While Digicel when ahead and made the Louisiana Purchase of CLARO Jamaica to get a hold of its valuable spectrum licensees and Data Infrastructure for 3G as noted in How to get 2G or 3G Internet on your Mobile Phone in Jamaica, LIME launched the Apple iPhone 4 on Tuesday June 14th 2011AD and followed up with the Apple iPhone 4S on January 13th 2012AD thanks to enthusiastic Customer Support.

LIME has now gone ahead and not only slashed Data Rates and introduced the LIME XL Promotion, but based on the new powers given to the OUR in May 2012AD by the revamped Telecommunications Act of 2000, has now rolled significantly lower On-net, International and Cross Network Rates in their new Talk EZ Plan as described in LIME drops Cross Network Calling rate to JA$6.99 to kick off a Battle for Mobile Market Dominance.

Curiously enough, this new Talk EZ plan which relates to Voice Services and not Data Services is a three (3) year push for Voice Telecoms market dominance. Upon activation, it negates the all previous plans, including the recently launched LIME XL, indicating that LIME most likely knew it was coming and was merely trying to get people excited and on board with the idea of getting a slice of the cake.

With MNP (Mobile Number Portability) just around the corner in December 2012AD, a mini trend towards Dual SIM Phone such those made by Florida-based Plum will begin to develop as Prepaid Jamaican customers try to find a way to avoid going Postpaid and enjoy the Best of Both Worlds, Hanna Montana Style.

LIME’s Regional Head of Corporate Communications, Kalando Wilmoth is pretty smug about their advances thus far in this nascent market powered by the Apple iPhone quote: “It is important to note that smart Phone users choose a device based on lifestyle demands. But a unifying feature of this group is the need to always be online and connected. So, the price of the iPhone is a key driver of the demand. Along with a monthly plan, customers can walk out of a LIME store with an iPhone for a little as J$5,199 plus GCT. Other well-known features include the many apps and the personal assistant, Siri, the picture quality, and other multimedia content.”

That explains the after-effect experience the Apple iPhone being marketed in Jamaica by LIME is having on the mobile market as it relates to the adoption of other Smartphones. By this I am referring to the positive numbers from rival Samsung as noted in the statistics above from Jamaica.

This is also a follow on of the statistics worldwide as it relates to the adoption of Smartphones since the First Quarter of 2012AD:

  1. 50% of Mobile-savvy Americans own Smartphones as reported in statistics from analyst Nielsen for February in the First Quarter of 2012
  2. 50% of the market of the above Smartphone market is Android Smartphones as reported in statistics from analyst ComScore
  3. 25% of the above Smartphone also have a Tablet, most likely the Apple iPad users as reported in statistics from ComScore Statistics

Globally the South Korean tech giant Samsung, makers of the Samsung Galaxy S III and with whom Apple now has a drawn out legal spat with regards to Copyright infringement and breach of contract relating to their Smartphone and Tablet, is a success.

A poster child for quality hardware meets quality OS in the form of Google Android Ice Cream. Samsung earnings stats are impressive according to the statistics of Strategy analytics:

  1. £2.75bn in the First Quarter of 2012AD, selling 44.5 million Smartphones, 22% more mobiles the First Quarter of 2011AD.
  2. Globally Samsung is now the number one seller of phones period when comparing the First Quarter of 2012AD with the First Quarter of 2011AD
  3. Samsung has beaten Nokia for the No. 1 spot, a post it held since 1998
  4. Apple only managed to sell 35 million iPhones.

So based on the parallels being between the statistics for the global trends towards Smartphones and what’s now happening in Jamaica, the following conclusions can be drawn:

  1. Blackberry is slowly being replaced by Apple iPhones and their Smartphone cousins
  2. Apple and Samsung international Smartphone battle is coming to Jamaica
  3. Mobile Data, Postpaid and Fixed Mobile and Landline Services are on the rise
  4. Tablet and e-reader adoption in Jamaica will be accelerated by the adoption of Smartphones and faster Wireless Broadband
  5. Jamaican Prepaid customers wanting to take advantage of the deals without having to go Postpaid will forego MNP in exchange for cheaper Dual-SIM Smartphones

So what will be the eventual fate of Blackberry, aside from being gobbled up after ignoring the writing on the wall for so many years? Even from their own core Corporate and Enterprise customers as per my analysis in 30% Blackberry Blackout by Corporate and Enterprise – Bring Your Favourite Gear?

Stay tuned as all will be revealed in a follow-up expose on the Geezam Blog when Thursday June 28th 2012 comes around……xoxo Gossip Girl Style.

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Lindsworth is a Radio Frequency and Generator Maintenance Technician who has a knack for writing about his work, which is in the Telecoms Engineering Field. An inspired writer on themes as diverse as Autonomous Ants simulations, Power from Lightning and the current Tablet Wars.

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