Canada-based Blackberry-maker Research In Motion (RIM) yesterday announced the first official BlackBerry-branded retail store in the country’s commercial capital Lagos, furthering the expansion of the company’s footprint in Africa.
A RIM source said the company is looking to underline its commitment to its partners and customers. Unlike Apple, which has authorised resellers only and lacks physical footprints, RIM is working to provide several services to current and future BlackBerry subscribers with its staff on ground.
“As the leading smartphone provider in Nigeria and Africa overall, our customers are our number one priority,” Robert Bose, RIM regional managing director for the Middle East and Africa, said. “So, we are pleased to cement our physical presence with local staff, establish a new legal entity and work with local business partners to expand our retail and customer care across Nigeria,”
Samsung and Nokia already have such a presence, both boasting customer care centres across the nation. With BlackBerry into the mix, there are now more options for the Nigerian customers to choose from.
RIM will further provide 60 software upgrade stations across Nigeria Blackberry customers looking for upgrades.Blackberry users will also benefit from in-warranty repair and after-sales support in retail stores located in Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt.
RIM continues to support the developer community as part of its on-going relationship with the Co-creation Hub in Lagos. The company also went into a partnership with the Yaba College of Technology in Lagos (YABATECH) to establish The Blackberry Academy Programme. With this programme, students of YABATECH will have the opportunity to have mobile app development, hardware and software integrated into their school curriculum.
RIM is in addition working with carriers in Nigeria to bring about an app billing system that will enable users to buy apps using mobile phone credit, in response to the difficulty that many BlackBerry users undergo buying credit.
There is no set date for the launch yet, although according to some reports, RIM and Nigeria’s carriers are in talks.
Nigeria and South Africa will be amongst the first wave of countries to receive the BlackBerry 10 when it is launched next year, emphasising the importance of both markets to RIM.