BlackBerry continues to dominate in Indonesia – but for how long?

Android is often heralded as the mobile device operating system best placed to find mass popularity in developing regions like Asia thanks to the sheer level of support across the mobile phone industry, which gives the platform a wide range of devices to suit all budgets.

While Android has established itself as the most popular operating system in Western markets like the US and UK, it has yet to repeat its success across some key Asian markets. Instead Nokia (for now), BlackBerry and iPhone continue to play more significant roles in major markets such as Indonesia, whose smartphone market was recently the subject of a Jakarta Globe article.

The piece looks at how, for now, RIM’s BlackBerry continues to stand out as the most popular smartphone for the country’s mobile users.

Given that teenagers are noted as the driving force behind the smartphone market in Indonesia, as the graphic below from Nielsen demonstrates, there could  be scope for budget, Google-backed devices to gain ground. However, with BlackBerry in fashion, arguably there is a strong pull towards the device for teens and young Indonesians.

The Jakarta Globe article goes on to look at why many Indonesians are content to stick with BlackBerry and not switch to Android for now.

Andy says most Indonesians are not picky about their phone’s operating system or the various apps available for it, as long as they get the basic services — messaging and social networking. But Lucky says the reluctance among Indonesians to migrate to Android — despite its wealth of apps, more sophisticated technology and the variety of phone manufacturers using it — is mainly because they are not keen to learn a new system.

“To enjoy the benefits of Android would require users to put in more effort and find better Internet connections, unlike with the BlackBerry, which users can easily benefit from through text messaging,” he says.

He adds that although Android has only been available for two years, there are more than 250,000 apps available for it, while BlackBerry only has about 39,000, despite being around since 2000.

Lucky is optimistic that Android devices will gain in popularity in the country as more Indonesians jump on the tablet craze sparked by Apple’s iPad. Unlike the latter, Android-based tablets run the gamut from low-end gadgets that cost about the same as a smartphone, to higher-end devices that rival or even surpass the iPad. This, Lucky says, makes the devices affordable to more Indonesians.

With smartphone features begin to standardise, the huge number of Android devices point to the Google-backed OS taking over RIM’s smartphone dominance. However, based on statistics from TNS, there is some work to be done as BlackBerrys account for 23 percent of Indonesian smartphones with Android making up just 6 percent – in the overall market Nokia remains top with a 71 percent of all devices in the country.

Android’s big potential comes not only from BlackBerry users, but from converting the large number of non-smartphone-owning Nokia users to uncomplicated and affordable smartphones. For now, however, BlackBerry continues to reign supreme in Indonesia… but the real question is for how long?