Nokia, Blackberry thriving in SA

Market research, Mobile telecommunications research

Nokia and BlackBerry are alive and well – and thriving – in South Africa, despite both brands facing worldwide decline in market share.

Nokia remains far and away the most popular cellphone brand among South Africans aged 16 and over, living in cities and towns, according to The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012 report, released this week as part of the recently unveiled Mobility 2012 research project.

The study, conducted by World Wide Worx with the backing of First National Bank, shows that Nokia maintained its market share over the past 18 months. In mid-2012, it held precisely 50% of this market; at the end of 2010, the figure was 51%. Nokia is expected to remain the number one cellphone brand in South Africa through to the end of 2013, but with a slightly diminished market share.

BlackBerry has flourished over this period, with its market share rising from 4% to 18%. It has drawn level with Samsung, which has fallen from 28% to 18% in the last 18 months.

“As in other developing markets, the demise of BlackBerry in this country remains a myth,” says Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx. “BlackBerry’s continued strength lies in its appeal to the younger market, with the Curve models maintaining a ‘cool’ image. In the 16-25 age group, the brand has 28% market share.”

A further 16% of cellphone users say they intend to buy a BlackBerry next. Actual behaviour tends to fall short of intentions, but this still suggests strong brand momentum. Despite the wealthy top end of the market abandoning BlackBerry for the iPhone and the new Samsung Galaxy S3, this does not translate into significant market share for Apple or Samsung, as BlackBerry remains dominant in the smartphone segment.

Industry data collected by World Wide Worx shows that, of a total of around 10-million smartphones sold in South Africa, about 4,8-million are BlackBerry devices. Nokia is a close second, with around 4-million smartphones sold. These are mostly devices using Nokia’s Symbian operating system, while its new Lumia phones using Microsoft’s Windows Mobile have not yet made a significant impact.

Smartphones running Google’s Android operating system – mostly from Samsung and HTC – amount to about 800 000 devices, while the iPhone has moved fewer than 400 000 units in South Africa.

The Mobility 2012 data confirms that the iPhone remains a toy of the elite in South Africa, maintaining only its 1% market share of 18 months ago. Respondents to the survey gave the iPhone the greatest future brand momentum, with purchase intentions suggesting a sixfold increase in market share, to 6%, in the next 18 months.

“This is double the brand momentum indicated for the iPhone at the end of 2010, but the intended purchasing activity at the time, which should have given Apple 3% market share, simply did not materialize,” says Goldstuck. “This shows the extent to which the iPhone remains an aspirational phone, but one that is out of reach, while the BlackBerry represents a reachable aspiration.”

Another dramatic shift was seen in Motorola’s market share: it fell from 11% to 2% in 18 months, and dropped from number 3 rank to number 5. LG slipped one position in rank to number 4, but maintained its 5% market share.

A surprise newcomer, the Chinese ZTE brand, also claimed 2% market share, thanks to low-cost devices that offer a powerful range of features. Sony-Ericsson, now carrying only the Sony brand, dropped from 2% to 1% market share, while HTC remained steady at 1%.

“HTC market share is expected to double in the next 18 months, although off a low base,” says Goldstuck. “But the prospects for Motorola, LG and Sony are bleak: all three are expected to drop below 1%, unless something drastic happens to revitalise the brands.”

The Mobility 2012 project comprises two reports, namely The Mobile Consumer in SA 2012, comprising cellphone usage and banking trends, and The Mobile Internet in SA 2012, exploring online and data trends. It is based on face-to-face interviews with a nationally representative sample of South African adult cellphone users living in cities and towns, conducted in June 2012.

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