BlackBerry sales drop in India as consumers turn wary

August 26th, 2010 - 5:09 pm ICT by IANS  

By Priyanka Sahay
New Delhi, Aug 26 (IANS) Sales of BlackBerry devices have dropped in India following uncertainty over whether the government would allow access to the smartphone’s encrypted email and messaging services beyond the Aug 31 deadline.

Many dealers IANS spoke to said their sales have declined in recent days as customers find it dicey to invest in Blackberry phones.

“Blackberry is popular because of the services it offers. If that is not there, why would any customer spend such a huge amount of money for it?” asked Jatin Sharma, a Blackberry dealer in Punjabi Bagh, Delhi.

He said sales of Blackberry phones in his shop have declined by almost 50 percent after the government said it would close down any service of Blackberry which security agencies do not get access to by Aug 31.

The phone’s Canada-based maker Research In Motion (RIM) has also been told that it should deploy an interception server in India with the Indian Service Provider having a definitive tracking system.

“Earlier, we used to sell almost 10 Blackberry handsets every week. We have not been able to sell more than 3 to 4 pieces this week,” said Sharma, who only recently had plunged into the business of smartphones.

Another dealer, Vikram Arora, who owns Prosound Trading Co. at the busy Connought Place, said there has been a drop in the sales of handsets in his shop.

“We have noticed a slight dip, which is obvious. A person won’t invest a huge amount of money in a device with risks involved. However, I feel that this is for a short duration as the government and RIM will come out with a solution soon,” said Arora.

Kunal Bajaj, head of Analysys Mason and a telecom analyst, said the government would not ban any service as RIM is continuously working on a solution.

“This is just a temporary drop and is mainly driven by the media reports. The customers should not be worried because the services they are using will not be affected,” said Bajaj.

Dealers have, however, said they would prefer to wait and watch how the differences between the government and RIM are resolved.

“We have stopped ordering for more stocks and are waiting for the issue to get sorted out,” said Anand Sharma, proprietor of south Delhi based mobile shop, Enkay Infocom.

“The unique selling proposition of a Blackberry device is its messenger service and if that will be blocked, there will be huge drop in the sale of this device,” said Lokesh Sharma, owner of Balaji Traders, a mobile shop.

When contacted, RIM spokesperson Satchit Gayakwad declined to comment on the fall in sales of the device.

The company does not share country-specific data, but estimates suggest around one million users in India.

According to the company’s recent results, RIM has shipped over 100 million BlackBerry devices till date to 175 countries.

RIM executives, who started discussions again Thursday with the telecom ministry and security agencies, hope to come up with a solution before the deadline.

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