Blackberry to expand footprint, new OS in second half

Blackberry to expand footprint, new OS in second half

Facing competition from smart phone makers like Samsung and Nokia, Blackberry-maker Research in Motion has chalked out aggressive plan for India of increasing its footprint to 160 cities, besides launching new devices and latest Operation System 10 soon.

The BlackBerry maker has a presence in about 80 cities in the country now and is keen to tap the burgeoning demand for smart phones here.

"In terms of expansion, we would like to strengthen our existing presence. As far as new cities are concerned we would like to double our presence this year and go to every city which has a demand for smart phones," RIM India Head Sunil Dutt told PTI.

He, however, declined to comment on investment details.

RIM started its operations in India in 2004 and has presence in over 80 cities across more than 4,000 retail points of presence. It has three national distributors -- Redington India, Brightpoint India and Ingram Inc.

Its portfolio in India includes the Curve, Bold and Torch series. The company also sells CDMA smartphones like BlackBerry Tour 9630, BlackBerry Curve 8530, BlackBerry Style 9670 and BlackBerry Curve 9350.

RIM shipped about 14.1 million BlackBerry smartphones and approximately 150,000 BlackBerry PlayBook tablets in Q3 FY12.

During the same period, its subscriber base grew to nearly 75 million, up 35 per cent year-over-year. RIM does not provide country specific details.

Talking about its latest operating system, Dutt said, "The OS 10 would be available from second half of 2012." The new operating system could be RIM's answer to other OS' like Windows Phone, Android, iOS and Samsung's Bada.

Asked if the company would look at setting up manufacturing base in India, he said the company is open to the idea but "it would depend on the demand".

The former Samsung India leader, who joined RIM from HP India, is also excited about the BlackBerry brand.

"BlackBerry devices continue to be popular, especially the BlackBerry Messenger service. We would continue to bring out newer devices. The broad areas of focus are innovation, building brand association, effective go to market channels and customer satisfaction," Dutt said.

He said the company is also upbeat on its applications store.

"We have about 50,000 apps but not much has been spoken about it. Our focus is not on numbers but to bring relevant apps and then taking it to consumers. The number of developers has increased substantially to 26,000 developers now. So, there is a lot of focus on innovation as well," Dutt said.

The smartphone market in India is estimated to be about 85 lakh devices in 2011 and is expected to double this year.