Research in Motion (RIM) is making a new bid to break into the South African market, spearheading its campaign with the new Blackberry Pearl handset.
Charmaine Eggberry, vice-president and MD: EMEA of RIM, is on a flying visit to South Africa to jumpstart the company's operations here and put marketing plans in place to help position the Blackberry value proposition.
RIM has been operational in South Africa for some years, and Blackberry handsets and services have been available from both MTN and Vodacom but, so far, the technology has failed to set this market alight.
Eggberry says that so far in this visit, the only message she has received from partners is that there is huge opportunity in the local market.
"There is tremendous development and everyone is incredibly upbeat," she says. "We are expecting to see a very strong adoption of the technology."
A big stumbling block, she adds, is that South African users aren't familiar with the Blackberry value proposition and tend to compare it with other handset manufacturers on a device level.
"The problem is that people haven't had the Blackberry experience as yet," she says. "We see there is a need for education, and to talk about how other people are using the device."
Eggberry says the Blackberry is more than a device and more than a managed e-mail service. The company's Beyond E-mail campaign is all about letting business partners port their applications to the device so that it literally becomes a mobile computer rather than simply a phone that collects e-mail.
"That the first message we are putting out: there is an enormous opportunity out there, and it's not just about e-mail."
The renewed focus on the South African market comes at the same time as Nokia – the incumbent market leader – is re-organising its operations on a global scale.
Under the new organisation, Nokia's current business group and horizontal group structure in the device business will be replaced by three main units: devices, responsible for creating the best device portfolio for the marketplace; services & software, reflecting Nokia's strategic emphasis on growing its offering of consumer internet services and enterprise solutions and software; and markets, responsible for management of Nokia's supply chains, sales channels and marketing activities.
In addition, Nokia will establish a chief development office to optimise Nokia's strategic capabilities and growth potential and also provide operational support for integration across all these units in conjunction with the CEO.
"The convergence of the mobile communications and internet industries is opening up new growth opportunities for us, both in the devices business as well as in consumer internet services and enterprise solutions," says Nokia CEO Olli-Pekka Kallasvuo. "Growing consumer demand for rich, mobile experiences creates an opportunity for change.
"Nokia will bring these capabilities to the broadest range of devices and price points. This unleashes the power of Nokia's device volumes, now coupled with new services and business solutions. This distinctive approach sets Nokia apart from point solutions vendors.
"We believe this new organization can capitalise on these opportunities while allowing us to increase the effectiveness of our investments and the efficiency of our operations."