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Indian consumers find BlackBerry an overall solution: Sunil Dutt

Interview with Managing Director, RIM (India)

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At a time when (RIM) is facing reports of being up for sale globally, it has got a new head for its India operations, Sunil Dutt, a veteran in the mobile handset industry with his earlier stints with and Samsung. He tells Mansi Taneja about how the company will now focus equally on enterprise and individual customer segments and his strategy for the Indian market for the next two years. Edited excerpts:

Globally, there have been reports of RIM being up for sale. Also, there is a recent change in the top management. How has all this impacted business in India?
That has been going on for some time, but it has not really impacted business in India in any adverse manner. Our business continues to grow — at worst, it could be flat but then it grows back again.

Consumers in India are finding as an overall solution. They like our devices and solutions, especially youngsters who love the BBM (BlackBerry messenger service). There is a lot of consumer demand and pull for BlackBerry. Our engagement with enterprise and carriers continues to be as strong.

Overall, RIM India business has not been impacted by anything that has been reported globally. It is all speculation.

RIM has always been known for enterprises. Going forward, will you focus on both enterprise and consumer side? Or just the enterprise segment, which has been your key strength?
RIM - BlackBerry comes from a very strong enterprise background. Our DNA has always been strong to serve enterprise customers.

Today, this base is strong. We have just launched some more solutions for small and medium enterprises as well. We have recently transitioned into consumer space. This is somewhat like IT, where first the adoption starts from enterprise level and then moves to individual ownership. But the adoption in our case has been at a much faster pace . Going forward, we will give 50-50 focus to both segments. Currently, more revenues come from the enterprise side.

India is mainly a low-cost market. Do you plan to launch your handset below Rs 10,000? There are some of your devices that are now available around this price, but they have been a result of corrections.
There are some devices available in the market around that price point. Whether we can launch a device below Rs 10,000 depends on a lot of factors. Everyday, the smartphone market is going up including consumers propensity as well. For a smartphone user, price factor is important, but value proposition is more important. We will be competing in this market, but we do not want to compete on price.

BlackBerry has been facing stiff competition from Apple, and others. On the high-end smartphones side, it has been losing out. How do you plan to maintain BlackBerry’s edge?
We have and will continue to launch products in those segments. If I look at the competitors, some of their success has come from all touch devices. We have also started to address that market now.

How big is the Indian market for RIM globally. What will be your strategy?
India is one of the focused markets for RIM globally. There are very few key-focus markets.

We are working on the strategy part right now. We need to then share it with the global organisation, so that there will be alignment everywhere. We are taking inputs from our own team as well from external research.

For a strategic intent, there are five pillars on which success rests — relevant products, investment in the brand, developing a go to market channel which is holistic and efficient, consumer insights through market research and, lastly, people who are going to execute the strategy.

In India, the number of developers has increased from 4,000 to 26,000 in the last two years. We focus on having relevant apps, it is not about the number, we have close to 50,000 apps, it’s not a small number. On the enterprise side, I doubt if anyone has end to end enterprise apps.

There have been various issues related to interception of BlackBerry services with the Indian government. You have already given an interception solution for BBM. But access to enterprise services is still an issue. Have you set up a server in Mumbai for BBM interception?
Security is of relevance to any government across the world. We respect that. On the consumer side (for BBM), we have worked with the government. But whatever access the government has, actually comes through carriers and not us.

On the enterprise side, government appreciates what we have shared with them. This is a larger industry issue, not a RIM issue. Access doesn’t lie with us. For the government, it is a larger issue not specific to any company which is why they are coming out with a comprehensive policy related to this. Once it comes, we will be able to get back to the government on the way forward or give our response. But, yes, we are committed to working with the government.

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