Photo: maltman via flickr
The bandits had a lot to do with the fall of basic phone kingpin Nokia. When they started looking oafish in 2007 next to iPhone, folks were still awestruck by 100 million-unit monster phones like the $20 Nokia 1100 — one of the the world’s most popular gadgets ever. Except, until the Shanzhai phone makers in China started to absolutely cream Nokia in every market from China and India to Nigeria and Thailand. Nokia went from 70% share in India 2007 to under 40% today.
BlackBerry has been singing a tune like Nokia’s the last quarter or two — as they lose the mindshare of the top-tier users, they lean on “huge growth in the developing world”. That was the rap last quarter.
Even in yesterday’s disastrous numbers, the volume of international units is the only reason they aren’t dead. Here are the first two lines of their earnings press release, courtesy of Engadget:
Revenue in the first quarter of fiscal 2012 grew 16% over the same quarter last year
International revenue in Q1 grew 67% year over year
But the other shoe drops for RIMM this summer.
See these phones arrayed across my desk at Peek HQ?
Those are a bunch of very low cost (less than $100) devices with big screens, keyboards, nice slim designs, 3G chipsets, cameras… phones that the Shanzhai ecosystem has been producing for about 18 months with increasing quality.
And for the first time, starting this week in Asian markets, the Peek push mail and messaging platform will be deployed on dozens of models from players such as Zonda, MircoMax, ZTE, K-Touch, and many more.
Now they actually match the “real-time email and messaging” features. There is an actual “NOC” a la Blackberry that makes it all work and these ultra low cost phones are actually getting cheaper as the software improves — heading for US $30 for a BlackBerry-parity feature phone this fall.
Our partners in Asia are definitely interested in the sub-$100 Android phones they are making. They are selling 5-10% of their volume with Android on it today — a few million units quarterly in aggregate. But this feature phone segment is 10x bigger and 80% cheaper. It used to focus on killing Nokia — taking 1% share per quarter.
The next victim will be BlackBerry.
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