BlackBerry 10 launch is wait and see for loyal UAE consumers [National, The (United Arab Emirates)]
(National, The (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) For Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian developer behind the smartphone, the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is make or break as UAE consumers adopt a wait-and-see approach.Courtesy Reuters
DUBAI// With the countdown to the launch of BlackBerry's new range of phones just hours away, customers in the UAE are hoping it will be the shot in the arm the company needs to reinvigorate the brand.
For Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian developer behind the smartphone, the new BlackBerry 10 operating system is make or break.
In recent years its once loyal army of customers around the world have been deserting the company in droves preferring the more user friendly and feature packed offerings from Apple and Android.
The brand remains a popular one in the UAE but customers say their continued support depends on how good the new phones will be.
"I am probably the last of my family and friends who still use a BlackBerry," said Anjali Nandkumar, an Indian national from Sharjah who has been using the phones for six years.
"In all honesty I have been thinking about switching to Apple or Samsung lately because they seem to be much easier to use than BlackBerry. I'll see how good the new phones are before deciding."
A common complaint among users is the slow processing speed of the phones as well as poor quality apps.
"The new phones need things like better cameras and a better user interface instead of all those menus," she added.
For Sudhakshina Shivkumar, an Indian student based in Dubai, her BlackBerry is more of a necessity.
"Most if not all of my friends have BlackBerry phones and the main reason for that is BB Messenger," she said.
"I know a lot of people have now switched to Whatsapp but I can only use it over wifi because otherwise I need to sign up to a Dh200 a month internet package to get the messages sent to me.
"With BB Messenger I get the messages free and that saves me a lot."
She is currently using a touchscreen Torch phone but is waiting to see if the new phones are an improvement on other products in the market.
Pre-orders for BlackBerry 10 devices, the touchscreen Z10 and X10 with a physical keyboard, have been healthy according to one online retailer.
"BlackBerry remains hugely popular in the Middle East and that is reflected in the orders we are getting from places like, Qatar, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia as well as the UAE," said Sheriff Rizwan, chief executive of ALshop.com.
"Although at this stage we don't know when the new phones will be released here we expect to get them in first week of February.
People who choose to by grey market imports could be having to pay a premium as high as Dh4,000.
However Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer for Jacky's Electronics, said there was no need to buy grey market versions of the phone.
"Dubai is one of the launch cities, which means the UAE is part of the first phase of the global launch so we'll be getting the phone at the same time as other countries," he said.
He remained tightlipped about when the phones will be officially launched only saying it would be "soon".
"RIM has been traditionally strong in the Middle East and demand has remained stable despite problems elsewhere in the world," he said.
"We are expecting it to sell well here once it launches."
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