Annie Mathew, director, alliances & business development, BlackBerry tells Sudhir Chowdhary. Excerpts:
How has BlackBerry performed in India over the past one year and what is your future business strategy for the market here
In 2011, RIM witnessed significant growth in its Indian business. The company has maintained the momentum in 2012. We have ensured relevant pricing for the Indian market, thereby maintaining a large customer base. We have also worked
towards ensuring the availability of the latest BlackBerry OS 7 devices, as this OS brings together next-generation technologies such as near-field communication, augmented reality and several integrated applications for users.
In line with our expansion plans, we have also strengthened our channel and distribution network, and capitalised on Indias growing mobile user base. In addition, we have launched BlackBerry Premium stores in Delhi, Gurgaon, Bengaluru and Mumbai to offer a holistic experience of using BlackBerry products and services.
Our enterprise business has been strengthened through world-class solutions. With technologies such as BlackBerry Balance, mobile voice solutions and the mobile device management solution, Mobile Fusion, we have helped organisations in achieving cost efficiency and increased productivity. BlackBerry provides the optimum solution to balance work and personal lives on the smartphone with its platform solutions and applications.
What is BlackBerry exactly trying to do at Startup Village in Kochi
Rubus Labs is the first BlackBerry Innovation Zone in the Asia Pacific region, which we set up about a year ago as part of a strategic alliance with the Startup Village. Our aim is to spur innovation in technology in association with the campus talent and capabilities available at Kochi. We provide app developers access to latest BlackBerry platform technologies which they can use to develop innovative apps. As part of this initiative, we conduct several events and activities such as Hackathons, BlackBerry 10 Jam, Developer Group Meetups, BASE (BlackBerry Apps by Student Entrepreneurs), Hangout Internship Programmes and others. All of these activities have resulted in development of hundreds of apps, many of which have been made available on the BlackBerry App World.
Why did BlackBerry select India as the location for setting up its innovation hub
Studies report that a third of the worlds developer community could be from India by 2015 and we hope to equip them with the latest in BlackBerry technology to leverage this talent. In the past, apps developed by Indian app developers have topped the charts for downloads globally and alongside are proving to be very profitable, not only for Research In Motion but also for the app developers.
Indians have also shown keen interest in app development as a choice of careers in the past few years and we would follow the philosophy of catching them young with initiatives such as BASE. More and more kids are inclined towards app development as the field not only interests engineers and computer geeks but also designers and artists, and any other person who has an innovative idea that can work with the customers.
One of the biggest advantages of developers from India is that they are quick on the uptake of new technology provided you expose them to it and give access to evangelists or experts. The increasing focus on user experience and user interface design enables Indian developer community to compete with the developers from China and Latin America who are low cost high quality developer communities. We wanted to tap this growing rage of start ups and entrepreneurs in app development, for contributions to the BlackBerry AppWorld and also to ensure that BlackBerry can play a crucial role in the development of the talent pool in India.
What are the companys expectation from BB 10
The launch of BlackBerry 10 has created a lot of excitement and spark among the consumers and not only among the BlackBerry loyalists. There have also been a lot of positive reviews that is keeping the hopes high. In a market that is already saturated with Android and iPhone users, BlackBerry hopes to win the heart of consumers and regain market share with features which are out of the box and a completely new kind of BlackBerry smartphone that is set to wow consumers.
With the BlackBerry 10 devices, we are aiming for the leading edge hardware performance, complemented by relevant applications in the local market. The company also expects a considerable rise in the global orders. We expect a good response.
Monetisation of apps is a critical factor for mobile app...
Application development for mobile devices is catching up as the next big trend as developers are increasingly coming up with sophisticated and intuitive app ideas which have a ready market through the app stores.
Emerging markets such as India is aggressively growing in the app development space. While the segment is still niche, Indian app developers are very well-equipped and skilled to create mobile apps powered by the latest technology. In India, the young lot is beginning to look at app development as a career option and is going out of their way to be seen and heard out there. A lot of Indian developers are beginning to get recognised abroad and are gaining the confidence of handset manufacturers. They are gaining such recognition by participating in various initiatives that are held by various companies in this space.