Canadian smart phone manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM), which makes the popular "BlackBerry" smartphone, has decided expand its appeal for the device to the larger consumer segment, moving beyond the enterprise enterprise market in India.
To implement this India-specific strategy, RIM is now planning to bring to market "unlocked" handsets via retail chains and neighbourhood stores. It also plans to launch some localised consumer-centric mobile applications, in a bid to position its handsets as a converged device.
Reports said that the company is also looking at the option of bringing to the Indian market a specific smartphone at a more competitive price.
The company has acknowledged the need for a business plan specifically for India, one of the fastest growing markets. Having almost pioneered the enterprise segment in India, BlackBerry here is perceived to be a niche brand, which the company now wants to change to a consumer segment brand that constitutes the market.
However, it realises the absence of a strong distribution channel as being a key barrier to growth in India.
Consequently, to push RIM into the consumer segment, RIM has partnered with Redington India, which already has distribution arrangements with several category leaders like Nokia, Western Digital, IBM, Canon, Samsung, Seagate, APC, Asus, Computer Associates, Cisco, HCL and Hitachi, amongst others.
This distribution tie-up marks a change in strategy for RIM in India, which was till now distributing its products through partnerships with telecom operators.
RIM expects Redington India to establish a retail trade channel across India and sell unlocked BlackBerry handsets, starting with Mumbai, the National Capital Region (NCR), Hyderabad, Chennai, Bangalore, Kolkata, Pune and Ahmedabad, in the iniotial phase.
RIM has a retail distribution setup in Western Europe and Latin America that has served the company well.
RIM also plans to launch localised applications in India for specific areas such as entertainment and sports. The company has a number of consumer applications that are provided to customers in the US and Western Europe.
RIM will now try to reposition the BlackBerry as a converged device, which will take it head – to – head in competition with the current favourite, tje Apple iPhone. RIM plans to use the differentiation to capture the market in India, and is said to be evaluating a BlackBerry designed specifically for the Indian market.
Presently, BlackBerry markets 13 handset in India, and has introduced four new models over the past five months. The recent launches include the Pearl Flip, Bold, Storm and Curve 8900. It markets its present models through telecommunications companies such as Airtel, Reliance Communications, and Vodafone.
Reports quoted Rajesh Khetarpal, the head for the Digital Life Style and Telecom SBU at Redington India as saying that his company believes in forging relationships that deliver value to end customers. He said that RIM would leverage Redington India's services and pan-India reach to increase the availability of their BlackBerry smartphones across the country, in what would be an "exciting phase of growth for Research In Motion and its partners in India". He said the alliance would strengthen the company's market position and presence in India.