Christophe Corsi, the Country Director for UAE at BlackBerry speaks to Review Central Middle East about the mobility and ICT landscape in the Middle East region.
What sort technology trends have you seen in the Middle East and Africa market over the past few months?
The Middle East and Africa market has grown tremendously in the past few years and the mobile phones landscape is interesting and diverse across the region. In markets with high smartphone penetration rates, such as UAE and KSA, a typical user upgrades their device every five to seven months.
While in other markets, consumers are just having their first smartphone experience as they upgrade from a feature phone to an entry-level smartphone. In line with this we envision continued growth in the smartphone business with Enterprise Mobility and BYOD playing a leading role in accelerating growth.
Given the unique opportunities this region offers, BlackBerry is committed to consistently offering innovative smartphones and services that cater to the specific needs of the regional consumers and businesses. By announcing unique products and services we are building excitement and anticipation not just amongst existing BlackBerry users, but also amongst former BlackBerry users as well as people who are yet to experience BlackBerry.
How has the regional ICT market grown over the past few years?
The regional ICT market is very dynamic and has grown robustly fueled by the rising demands for better, faster and more innovative products and services by consumers and the significant investment from government bodies in the sector.
The Middle East also constitutes one of the strongest regions for BlackBerry globally. According to data provided by research firm GfK, BlackBerry was the #2 selling smartphone vendor in the UAE and #3 in KSA in June this year. Additionally, BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) penetration for the region is 98 percent, one of the highest in the world. In KSA and UAE the penetration rate is 99 percent and 98 percent respectively amongst BlackBerry users.
With smartphone penetration in the Middle East amongst the highest in the world, it is expected that growth will be faster than the EMEA average over the next five years. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are ranked amongst the top markets for smartphone subscriptions and we see this trend continuing as populations grow and people transition from feature phones.
What sort of ICT products are in demand in the MEA region? Has there been a major shift in what the consumers want in ICT products?
Consumers across the Middle East and Africa region are very tech-savvy and are generally early adopters of high-tech products. Consumers are increasingly embracing and deeply integrating intuitive and innovative technology gadgets, especially smartphones into their daily lives, personally and professionally. In line with this trend, employers are opening up to the idea of BYOD and enterprise mobility and are increasingly looking to support smartphones while maintaining enterprise security.
As such BlackBerry is in a leading position to offer not only the latest smartphones based on our best-ever operating system, BlackBerry 10 but also provide enterprises with the most secure mobile service with our BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, which supports smartphones that are based on the iOS, Android and BlackBerry OS.
Which technologies do you think are the most-wanted technologies in the MEA region for SMB users and end consumers?
SMBs are looking for products and services that are cost-effective, enable increased mobile productivity, and that offer the highest level of security. Each vertical market is different in the sense of its underlying drivers, critical processes and potential benefits.
For instance the finance and insurance sector focuses on field and sales related process, and the transport sector on the demand for information visibility for fleet and company-wide management including safety and security, maintenance, and customer interaction right down to warehouse management.
From end users point of view, they are keen to use smartphones, such as our new line-up of BlackBerry 10 devices, that are fast, intuitive and allow them to be socially and professionally connected at all times.
What do you plan to achieve through GITEX Technology Week and GITEX Shopper this year? Can you please share your plans?
GITEX is one of the most exciting times of the year for us and we have a lot lined up for this year’s GITEX. We will be bringing the BlackBerry 10 roadshow to town and we will be showcasing our exciting range of BlackBerry 10 smartphones, including a few as-yet-unannounced surprises! We will also be highlighting recent app launches and even hosting a few of our local app developer partners from around the region.
What’s going to be your theme at GITEX Technology Week this year?
GITEX is the perfect platform for us to demonstrate our commitment to supporting the long-term growth and development of the mobile industry in the Middle East, which is one of the world’s most diverse and fastest-growing smartphone markets. Following the launch of our new BlackBerry 10 platform earlier, at this year’s show we will be demonstrating how we are continuing to deliver new and exceptional BlackBerry experiences for both consumers and businesses.
Do you have plans to conduct raffle draws, give away gifts and so on for end consumers this year?
We have a lot going on at the stand this year, and will be looking forward to giving visitors to GITEX some memorable moments. In addition to exhibiting our portfolio of products and solutions, we will have some real fun in store for visitors. We don’t want to give too much away just yet, but if you’re a good driver and want the chance to win some fantastic prizes then our stand is definitely the place to be at this year’s GITEX!