RIM eyes further success in Southeast Asia with “aggressive” retail expansion plans

RIM eyes further success in Southeast Asia with “aggressive” retail expansion plans

RIM is looking to build on its popularity in key markets in Southeast Asia by massively increasing its sales presence in Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand, according to a Bloomberg report.

Speaking at the Mobile World Congress event in Barcelona, RIM’s head in Southeast Asia — Gregory Wade — revealed it will increase the number of BlackBerry sales points in Indonesia to 4,000; that includes flagship stores, store-in-stores and kiosks in the country.

Wade says the Canadian firm, which appointed Thorsten Heins as its new CEO in January, also has “aggressive” plans to grow the number of retail outlets selling BlackBerry phones in Thailand and Malaysia, where its smartphones are popular choices for consumers.

Already this year RIM has upped its push in India, where it is doubling the number of retail outlets selling BlackBerry smartphone, and it is now adopting a similar approach in other other parts of Asia.

Wade describes Indonesia as a “proving ground” for the region, and the country is a key part of the company’s strategy in Asia. Last year RIM held a global launch in capital city Jakarta, while it saw Apple-like crowds gather for the launch of a new handset there.

Southeast Asia is one of RIM’s strongest market worldwide and the region helped it post a 31 percent increase in sales outside of the UK, US and Canada during the last quarter. That’s in stark contract to the US, where sales dropped 45 percent, according to figures quoted by Bloomberg.

RIM has enjoyed a strong brand in Southeast Asia for some while, thanks to a number of reasons including competitive pricing, early mover advantage and the support of celebrities. However, this year its challenge is shaping up to be particularly fierce.

Android shipments continue to grow across Asia as does the popularity of Apple’s smartphones, which rivaling the firm’s BlackBerry devices more closely than ever. More than Apple, affordable Android-based devices are offering regular RIM customer an alternative option, with apps a notable strong point over the RIM devices.

Nokia is also on rise, with Windows Phone 7 based devices, and the Finnish firm still enjoys massive brand recognition and a strong reputation in Asia, which it will look to draw on with its Lumia range and affordable Asia-specific Asha devices.

Heins is determined to keep RIM among the top three mobile firms and there are new devices likely to be forthcoming this year. Part of the plan also appears to be a focus on the potential of Asia, and the company will look to, not only hold its position in the region, but grow further too.

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