While Canadian BlackBerry maker RIM seems to be steadily losing ground in North America to the likes of Apple and Google’s Android, the firm is veritably thriving south of the border, where its devices are esteemed by many as the epitome of cool.
Smartphones are only just beginning to penetrate the Latin American market, where the majority of customers are prepaid, and therefore don’t enjoy phone subsidies, but owning a BlackBerry is a status symbol thought worth the hefty price tag. Owning one doesn’t mean buying a data plan though.
“I know people who own two BlackBerrys, just to show off,” a rep from Telefonica explained to RCR when quizzed about the phenomenon. “It doesn’t mean that they buy the data plan to go with it, but they like to have it anyway, just for show.”
While that may seem like a bit of a cop out for operators, what firms like Telefonica are finding, however, is that BlackBerry boasts a very powerful hook which is proving almost irresistable to users as time goes on. BlackBerry Messenger – which requires data.
“Many people in Mexico buy the BlackBerry because it’s cool, and then they buy the data plan only because of BBM,” the rep explained to us. “If someone asks you your BlackBerry PIN and they try to add you to messenger but you don’t have a data plan, it looks really bad for you, not cool” he added.
Even worse, however, would be not to have a BlackBerry PIN at all. That would be veritable social suicide, in a society that idolizes BlackBerrys business cool above all else.
“If you have a Samsung, a Motorola, or, dare I even suggest, a Nokia, you are nothing here!” a source from the Mexican mobile industry told us.
What about iPhones? we asked. Well, that’s a different story. iPhones are also starting to penetrate the market and are seen as the “cool must-have” for yuppie social climbers, but again, most feel the data plan is frivolous and unnecessary. And, worst of all, it doesn’t come with BBM.