Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation, has been a contrarian market for smartphones. It is one of the few markets worldwide where the Blackberry beats the iPhone as a consumer smartphone.
Generally, the Blackberry is seen more as a device that companies issue to their employees, while iPhone is the one that people choose for themselves.
Just look at the levels of search on Google for Blackberry vs iPhone or which phone is used more by people to look at AdMob’s online advertisements in Indonesia.
CNN recently reported cellphone salesmen as selling 5 Blackberries for each time they sell one iPhone. The Jakarta Globe quoted some phone sellers back in October as saying that the Blackberry outsells the iPhone at a pace of 12-to-1.
Why? There are a number of factors that come into play in Indonesia. These include:
1- Cost of a Blackberry
A legally purchased Blackberry in Indonesia costs just US$500 new, compared to US$900 for an iPhone. A Blackberry smuggled in on the gray market without import taxes costs just US$300.
2- iTunes Indonesia and Blackberry Fashion
The site still offers no tunes, only apps for the phone. This is a key missing element in the Apple ecosystem. (h/t Stuart) In addition, the Blackberry has become a fashion accessory for many in Indonesia, moving in on Apple’s monopoly on tech-cool.
3- Internet cost: $17 or $100
Broadband at home is incredibly expensive in Indonesia. It ends up costing US$100 to have broadband: US$70 per month for a landline + US$30 for ADSL. This is why roughly 30 million people in Indonesia may have Internet access, but only about 2.5 million have dedicated access. Even if you can afford broadband at home, the speed is often not reliable. Most people rely on shared Internet connections in places such as libraries or Internet cafe.
By comparison, a prepaid Blackberry plan for US$17 per month will give you unlimited data with some calls and sms. (Roughly 97 percent of telco customers in Indonesia use prepaid)
An additional impetus to use mobile Internet: Have you ever been stuck in Jakarta traffic? There’s plenty of time to surf the net on your mobile. Mobile users in Indonesia now outnumber computer Internet users by 5 to 1, according to Internet World Stats.
Impact on Social Media
One impact of this phenomenon in Social Media has been the rapid growth of Facebook due to their Blackberry app. Thanks to Blackberry, Facebook killed Friendster in Indonesia.
Why does Indonesia matter?
While Internet penetration is remains around 12 percent, mobile penetration in Indonesia is more than 50 percent and growing fast. In absolute terms, Indonesia will likely become the world’s third largest mobile phone market, after China and India. In other words, this demand could have a huge impact on Blackberry’s bottom line.
Any further thoughts from readers in Indonesia?