BlackBerry losing lustre among SA youth

 ·31 Oct 2013

While BlackBerry remains the most widely used handset among South African students, new research finds that its future in that demographic is less rosy.

This was among the findings of the SA High-tech Student 2013 research study, released on Thursday (31 October) by World Wide Worx and Student Brands.

BlackBerry has been synonymous in SA with affordability thanks to its BlackBerry Internet and messaging service (BIS and BBM).

The Sunday Times Generation Next 2013 Brand Survey Awards recently revealed BlackBerry to be the coolest brand in South Africa among the country’s youth.

The latest survey conducted among all universities and colleges across South Africa, included interviews with 1,435 students.

It found that more than half (57%) of students used a BlackBerry handset, with Nokia a distant second at 20%, with Samsung third (14%), and the iPhone fourth at 5%.

“A critical question for cellphone brands is not necessarily who is using the device right now, but what they plan to buy next,” said Arthur Goldstuck, managing director of World Wide Worx.

“Our findings in that regard were startling, and send a message to manufacturers about what students want from a phone.”

Only 15% of respondents said they wanted to buy a BlackBerry as their next device. As many as 40% said they wanted an iPhone next, while 29% would prefer a Samsung.

Nokia fell back to only 8%. The prospects for less popular brands showed slight improvement, with Sony moving from 1% of current usage to 4% of planned usage, and HTC from 1% to 3%.

“That doesn’t mean they will in fact move to the iPhone,” said Daryl Bartkunsky, managing director of Student Brands, the student marketing specialists.

“It’s an aspirational phone, but one they can’t afford, so many will go with the low-end BlackBerry because of the cost of the phone and the affordability of BlackBerry Internet access on the older phones. Low-cost Samsung and Nokia smartphones will also benefit.”

Instant messaging

Among IM apps, WhatsApp dominates, used by 79% of students participating in the survey, with BBM used by 57% of respondents. Facebook Messenger claimed 45%, and Mxit 28%.

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