Quick — what’s the fourth most populous country in the world, behind China, India, and the United States? It’s gotta be Russia, right? Maybe Brazil? Pakistan? France? Nope. It’s none of those. The fourth most populous country in the world, with a quarter of a billion people is… Indonesia. It’s the largest Muslim country in the world by population and it was the last bastion of Blackberry in Asia.
Android has reached 51% adoption rate in Indonesia, and now it looks like RIM’s last big user base is going the way of the dodo, much like the platform itself. To understand why it was ever popular in the first place, you need to know three letters — BBM. In the days before unlimited texting plans and the proliferation of Facebook and Twitter, BBM was the soul of social networking. It was texting, but more immediate. You could send attachments and pictures as well as group chat. And at a time when texts cost 10-25 cents a pop and the only alternative to add $20/mo plans for 500 texts, unlimited BBM was included in your BB plan for free. What is happening in Indonesia is the same thing that happened in the United States – unlimited texting plans disrupted the one feature Blackberry users had found indispensable. And once one domino fell, the rest started to follow – BBM was a Blackberry only feature, and as more people left Blackberry, the number of people you could BBM with started shrinking. On the consumer side, the only reason left for anyone to own a Blackberry is the physical keyboard — the platform has nothing left to offer. And with foreign characters easier to implement and customize on software keyboards, this isn’t even a big advantage overseas.
As the telcos in emerging markets also start offering unlimited texting plans, this shift away Blackberry will leave its parent company with nothing more than a patent portfolio and enterprise software. Which is to say, pretty much what it’s like right now… except even worse.