Research in Motion (RIM) is a software as well as a telephony hardware manufacturing firm that is operating in the telecommunications industry that was started in 1984 with the main aim of developing both software and hardware applications for mobile communication. Over the years, RIM has grown to become one of the world’s biggest handset manufacturers with the brand blackberry.
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The Blackberry handset has been popular since its launch in the American market because of its unique applications like having a high memory and storage capabilities that allowed for massive storage in its music player. Also, the blackberry handset could support the 3G connection allowing the handset to have high speeds in terms of internet connectivity.
These applications served its business clientele very well in terms of e-mail access and uploading of data (Research in Motion Ltd, para3). The blackberry smartphone, which is the modified version of the first blackberry handset, although having gone through tremendous changes in design, has been RIM’s best innovation in terms of sales and also subscriber base.
This paper will seek to establish reasons for the significant increase in the sales of the blackberry handset in the Middle East. The paper will also try to highlight the effects of the RIM retailers in these Middle East countries in terms of the market base, sales and consumer response to the product and also to the RIM systems of sales in their country. The finding of this paper will be based upon the survey of the RIM retailers that will encompass between 18-30 retail outlets.
In the past few years, the market paradigm has undergone through dramatic upsets that have been occasioned by the economic recession that has hit the American and European economies in the recent past. The effect of this has resulted in a slow demand for goods, increased production costs, and a fall in share prices for the listed trading companies.
These factors have led some of these companies to venture from their traditional market into unfamiliar territories like the Asian market, which has a promising untapped potential. RIM is one of those companies that have sought to establish itself in the Asian market as the most preferred handset provider in the region.
RIM came up with a strategy in which to target some Asian markets through the launching of retail stores that operated within the countries cities; one of those cities targeted was Beijing, Qatar, and Indonesia. The strategy was designed to increase the sale of the product. One of the market strategies in which RIM capitalized on was the fact that blackberry as a brand had done exemplary well taking around 52% of the American market share.
In itself, the brand was popular with the wider majority of the user being the business client. This was in contrast to RIM’s main competitor, iPhone, whose majority clients were the youth. The retailers adopt a strategy of advertising the blackberry smartphone as being cool and classy.
This line of advertisement sought to appeal to the youth and also to the business clientele. However, advertising alone would not yield the desired results. RIM came up with a system where the retail stores would be strategically situated to be able to attract more clients (Ho Para 3-4).
Analysis of the Marketing Strategies
Thus, the retail shops were situated within the cities of the Asian countries and put up infamous and busy streets. The retail shops were divided into a series of segments, but which worked harmoniously towards achieving similar goals. This segment included a sales department, a technical department that was tasked with repairing and maintaining the handsets in case of any malfunctions.
The last department was tasked with the management of the retail shops. The above system in the retail shop ensured that the clients got the best services and also could consult the RIM technician in case their handsets had developed any problem. These customer services ensured that the clients got value for their money.
Other marketing strategy employed by RIM to boost its sales in the Asian market was to ensure that within the retail centers, the ratio of employees to clients was high to ensure that the clients were better served, especially during the onset of the launch of the retail centers, which was characterized by massive long lines of clients wanting to purchase the smartphones. This strategy was also aided by RIM diversifying its product and services.
The RIM company also decided to launch its latest product in the Asian market, the RIM Playbook tablet had hit the American and European market with an impact, and according to some analyst, the playbook tablet had done well compared to the RIM latest blackberry handset. RIM hoped to replicate the success of the playbook in the Asian market. The strategy employed by RIM in this connection relied heavily on having an efficient customization strategy and also coming up with unique designs for its products.
This method had proved to be successful in the Korean markets. Customization of the Blackberry smartphones and the Playbook tablet from the conventional twelve keys on the keyboard to twenty-four allowed for the Asian hand set carriers to be able to communicate in their language. RIM also embarked on launching a short messenger service for the local enabling most of their clients to be able to send and receive short text messages in their local language (Market Research Report Para 6).
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Although the above strategy worked towards increasing the sales of the blackberry smartphone handsets, it is crucial to mention that the Asian markets posed a challenge in terms of the social, religious, and political aspects.
Some markets like the UAE had burned the use of blackberry in their countries due to both political and religious matters. In most of these Asian markets, there is a narrow line between politics and religion, meaning that the access to the internet is limited and highly regulated by the state and so the blackberry smartphone could not be effective to the business clientele who had no access to the internet.
Also, for the youth, lack of internet meant that they could not access the social sites rendering the blackberry smartphone not to be as effective as it should have been. In addition to the UAE market, other markets within Asia posed quite a challenge like the Korean market, where there are stringent government policies in terms of products standards.
However, these shortcomings were resolved, and RIM was given the right to sell its products. The government also eased its stringent regulation on internet connectivity, a measure that boosted the RIM market base.
About environmental factors, some of the markets offered an adequate work environment about cheap manpower. For instance, markets like China offered a convenient environment in terms of infrastructure, manpower, and also a ready and vibrant market for RIM products.
However, some Asian markets like the UAE lacked the required expertise about manpower and thus required expatriates had to be deployed in these regions, increasing the cost of operations for RIM Company. It is crucial to mention that markets like Bangkok offered relief for RIM industries as the environment was conducive in all aspects, causing RIM launch to start with a bang.
Although RIM was able to get integrated into the Asian market without any trouble in terms of government policy after they were made flexible, there were a lot of problems about culture. Unlike their previous markets where RIM had its operations in an environment where there was a lot of awareness in terms of handset applications and manipulation which allowed for handset carriers in this western market to base the demand of the smartphone on design and application manipulation.
This determined the competition of different smartphones. However, the Asian market required RIM to conduct a sensitization advertisement for it new market which meant that most handset buyers bought the blackberry handset just for its brand rather than which type of handset had the best applications rendering some handsets to become dead stock (Palo 14).
In addition to this the issue of superiority in culture also posed a challenge with some Asian countries opting to advocate and use their manufactured handset rather than using brands that did not belong to their countries, this notion was hard to dispel although through vigorous sensitization in terms of brand quality, ease of the blackberry applications and availability of replaceable components of the smartphone made it easy to sell the product.
In terms of economic spheres, RIM sought to establish a prepaid service for its business clientele through its retailers in the Middle East. This strategy had proved successful in the Indonesian market. The strategy was estimated to boost the blackberry services in the Middle East, having in mind that these new markets were becoming economic herbs in the world market platform.
It is also crucial to mention that by the time RIM was venturing into the Asian Pan-Pacific markets, the smartphone industry in the developed market had transitioned from the point of view where blackberry was perceived as a company as opposed to being consumer driven by the product.
It is prudent to mention that the Asian markets like Qatar, UAE, and Bangkok were emerging new economies that had proved to major players in the Asian continent has increased investment in both business and sporting, making them economically viable.
In most Asian countries, RIM companies experienced a lot of legal huddles, although, they were managed in time. Some of the countries that offered legal challenges were China and the UAE. In China, the legal tussle that presented itself was that of products being subjected to meet some local requirements about quality.
This was precipitated by the fact that China is also a handset manufacturer for different companies through off-shoring arrangements, and thus, it was interested in protecting her interests. In UAE, the legal tussle was about cultural and religious issues and also having a lot of bureaucracies about western investment.
The Asian markets provided a significant technological contribution for the RIM company in areas of innovation like coming up with a twelve key touch screen keyboard that allowed for the Asian clients to type in their languages. Also, the Korean and Chinese markets become blackberry manufacturing countries in terms of their smartphone inputs and other applications. The RIM playbook tablet added a new touch in the Asian market in terms of technology, especially with the youth who found it to be quite handy in the social sphere.
RIM has faced a lot of competition from other handset manufacturer like the iPhone, Nokia, Ericsson, and Samsung, who have also developed their smartphone in almost the same way in terms of application. These developers have also entered into the Asian market causing the competition to go a notch higher thus success in the Asian market will be based on developing new and innovative applications, new designs for the smartphone and also maintaining a higher customer service to retain their Asian customers.
The response regarding customer analysis varied within the different Asian markets, some markets started with a bang in terms of sell volumes of the smartphone and the playbook tablet, while others stated slowly with regards to sells volumes only to pick up later. It is crucial to mention under normal evaluation the customer response has been positive and improving due to the customer friendly measures that the RIM retailers have undertaken to improve customer service delivery.
In conclusion, the RIM retailers in the Middle East market developed quite sound strategies which had proved to be quite successful in other Asian markets. The strategies ensured improved customer service, which translated to improved sales of the RIM product.
Ho, Victoria. RIM seeks consumers in Asia’s emerging markets. ZDNet Asia. 2010. Web.
Market Research Report. RIM’s Asian Market Entry Strategy: Analyzing Success Factors for Smartphone and Tablet Markets in Asia. 2010. Web.
Palo, Alto. Asia Pacific to become the largest smart phone market by 2012: – Symbian will remain dominant, but the OHA, RIM and Apple will grow strongly. 2010. Canalys. Web.
Research in Motion Ltd. Company Histories & Profiles. Funding Universe. 2003. Web.