BlackBerry’s Indonesian empire faces new threat as top operator introduces $3 monthly messaging deal

BlackBerry’s Indonesian empire faces new threat as top operator introduces $3 monthly messaging ...

RIM has been dealt a blow in Indonesia, one of its strongest markets, after operator Telkomsel launched a new set of bundled offers that give its 110 million customers unlimited use of no fewer than three competitors to BlackBerry Messenger (BBM).

Daily Social reports that the operator has extended its existing monthly bundle, which already gave unlimited use of Opera Mini and WhatsApp. Now, customers also have the option of daily or weekly rates, while the use of popular messaging apps Line and KakaoTalk is included in the deal.

The real selling point here is price, it’s aggressive and compelling. The monthly package costs just $3.15 (30,000 IDR), therein offering a suite of messaging and free calling services to users, without breaking the bank.

BlackBerry remains hugely popular in Indonesia, Thailand and other Southeast Asian markets, but cross-platform services — such as KakaoTalk and Line — are a real threat, as they provide a BBM-like experience across any smartphone.

RIM’s proprietary messaging service is a key incentive that motivates many BlackBerry users and their friends to buy RIM’s smartphones, but the explosion of more affordable Android-powered phones and other messaging apps threaten this eco-system.

With operators like Telkomsel on board supporting more open platforms, it remains to be seen just how RIM will suffer in the process. Certainly if others offered similar bundled deals, then RIM’s empire in Indonesia would be under considerable pressure.

All four applications bundled by the operator are available for BlackBerry devices but that fact in itself may actually increase RIM’s subscriber churn. Once planted firmly on BBM, entire peer groups are migrating over to services like Line, removing the exclusivity of RIM’s chat service and nullifying one of the most compelling reasons to buy a BlackBerry device.

Line and KakoTalk, which both have more than 50 million members, are both aggressively focusing on growing their user bases in Southeast Asia. The Telkomsel deal provides a high profile platform to kick on and grow among Indonesia’s 260 million plus mobile phone owners.

The move is an interesting one from the operator as Line, KakaoTalk and WhatsApp are frequently perceived as ‘revenue stealers’. In response, the services each claim that they benefit operators by helping grow data revenue streams and encouraging increased smartphone sales, and those are likely to be among the reasons behind the Telkomsel strategy.

Texting and social networks are increasingly becoming the primary usage for mobile devices so support KakaoTalk and Line — both of which offer free calls — is a bold one that’s part of Telkomsel’s objective of reaching 66 million data users by the end of the year.

Interestingly, there’s no support for Tencent’s WeChat messaging application, despite the fact that the Chinese company is focused hard on growing its presence in Indonesia, among other places.

Image via Shutterstock / rangizzz

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