BlackBerry recently announced an association with Amazon to make available its applications to a wider audience.
Campaign India spoke with Annie Mathew, director - alliances and business development, BlackBerry India, to learn more about how the handset manufacturer is doing in India.
There’s a perception that the number of downloads and the engagement of users on the BlackBerry Messenger App is going down after the initial buzz at the time of launch. Is it true?
AM: No, it’s not true from what we’re seeing. Contrary to your question, the user base and user engagement is growing. We just launched BBM Protected, seeing the tremendous need of protecting chats as a lot of crucial information, decisions are made over chat. Anyone could otherwise intercept data, but with this software, BBM reaches another level.
We’re now linking it with our prime USP - security. We’ll be launching some other features soon that will separate BBM from plain instant messengers currently available. We’re in discussions with doctors and hospitals to integrate BBM and reach out to areas that were otherwise devoid of these services. With a secure chat now available, we’ve opened up a lot of segments to be present in.
BlackBerry as a phone is still seen as a handset only for e-mail. With the Amazon deal are apps and apps redevelopment something BlackBerry is emphasising on?
AM: It’s a perception that BlackBerry is only seen as a handset for e-mail. I was once sandwiched between a user of another operating system and one with BlackBerry. The phone discussion went on and on, and when it got to applications, the BB user has an application for everything work-related versus the other system user. On the consumer side, we were a little short on applications, but now the Amazon deal should take care of that.
On the number of applications, we prefer quality of applications versus the number of applications. We monitor user feedback and ratings on the applications.
You would be surprised to see that we currently have very few ‘e-mail only’ consumers.
What’s the most popular applications category in India and worldwide? Any trends that have been noticed?
AM: Among paid apps, it’s productivity apps and games that are making up a high amount of downloads. When it comes to free applications, games, music, productivity, search, food and news are the categories getting the highest numbers.
In the recent past, one of the trends we’re seeing is the increase in downloads of the paid apps. It’s showing that our apps are useful for the consumer. In general, we’re seeing that apps that are well made are doing well. Users on the BB community are very vocal about apps and keep sending in positive and negative feedback. We’ve created a ‘Built for BB’ programme through which we allow apps to go live only after it passes a test which consists of a few parameters.
We then have an app that partitions a handset to a personal and secure space versus apps that can be accessed by everyone. This is a good one and allows users to do a lot more with their phone without worrying about work or personal data being accessed.
Does the Z10 still remain the flagship amongst handsets?
AM: We’ll soon be launching the Z3 that will become our flagship. It will be running on the same operating system (BB10) as the Z10 and everything that runs on it, will run on the Z3.