BlackBerry Middle East shrugs off global woes

Cites strong local sales as a reason to keep its eye on growth

Tags: Blackberry (www.blackberry.com)Mergers and acquisitionsUnited Arab Emirates
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BlackBerry Middle East shrugs off global woes Horton says that BlackBerry remains a popular choice for smartphone buyers in the Gulf.
By  Roger Field Published  October 14, 2013

While BlackBerry has attracted more than its share of bleak news headlines in recent months, the mood at the company's Dubai office, which oversees the Middle East and North Africa, reflects a more upbeat story.

A row of trophies from regional partners including operators, retailers and channel partners adorn the main desk in the lobby, and staff appear to be in a cheerful, even buoyant mood, as I wait to meet Nick Horton, BlackBerry's newly appointed managing director for the Middle East and North Africa.

While the fate of BlackBerry in the Middle East is undoubtedly tied to that of the global operation, which is headquartered in Ontario, Canada, the performance of the local Middle East unit has increasingly diverged from that of the global operation.

Indeed, while poor handset sales in North America and other developed markets contributed to BlackBerry's second quarter net loss of $965m, the brand continues to command a strong market share in the Middle East, and particularly the Gulf. Even in the past quarter (June-August), BlackBerry was the second best-selling smartphone brand in KSA and third best-selling in the UAE, positioning the brand a couple of places ahead of Apple, according to data from market research firm, GfK.

For Horton, the company's problems at the global level offer no excuses for his team in the Middle East to slacken their pace. The New Zealander, who has been with BlackBerry for five years in the UK and then Singapore, is determined to maintain and build on the company's successes in the region.

"There is so much going on. There is a market here which is doing really well but then all the North American news tends to put a bit of a dampener on things, so we are talking with the team and with our partners to redress the balance a bit about what is happening in the Middle East, because we still have a really successful brand," he says. "The brand is still really attractive; people still want to buy our handsets. We just launched the Z30 two weeks ago and it is doing really well."

1495 days ago
Ahmed Ali

Did this guy work also for I-Mate? Same lines as they said back in '06 until the day the doors where locked.

"Drinks to be served on aft deck Captain Smith - Titanic '12"

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