Francezka Nangoy & Dion Bisara
Ika Yulita Hasanah, a businesswomen at an international trading company, recently purchased a Samsung Galaxy S III smartphone because it “looks cool” and because of its applications, including as a modem for other mobile devices.
She is one of many Indonesians, moving away from Research In Motion’s BlackBerry, and her selection of a Samsung reflects the increasing demand for Android-based smartphones.
Android became the most popular operating system in Indonesia’s smartphone market, commanding a 52 percent share, according to International Data Corporation, an IT and telecommunication research group, in a report released on Thursday. It didn’t give comparable figures for the first quarter.
RIM has been losing out to rivals such as Samsung — which recently unveiled its Galaxy III handsets — and HTC, both because of their touchscreens and because RIM has delayed the release of new models. Still, BlackBerry remained the top smartphone brand, IDC said.
In the first half there were 36 million shipments of mobile phones, of which 3 million were smartphones, according to IDC.
“The increase in shipments of Android-based phones in Indonesia is driven not just by its affordability but also the broad range of applications and growing popularity of touchscreens,” Darwin Lie, market analyst for client devices research at IDC Indonesia, said in a statement.
Darwin told the Jakarta Globe that this trend will continue for some time as “the adoption by many vendors of Android is quite high at this point,” something that he does not see happening in any other operating system.
IDC said at least 10 international smartphone makers had adopted the Android system, including Sony.
The growing trend in Indonesia for Android phones reflects global demand for the operating system developed by Google in response to the high demand for the first generation of Apple’s iPhone when it was released five years ago.
More than 200 million iPhones have been sold since 2007, according to research reports, and Apple released its latest version, the iPhone 5, on Wednesday in California to encourage more buyers.
Android and iOS, which powers the iPhone, accounted for 85 percent of all smartphones shipped in the second quarter of 2012, according to IDC.
Meanwhile, the market shares of BlackBerry and Nokia’s Symbian, two pioneers and former leaders of the smartphone market, both fell below 5 percent, the research group said. Globally, IDC reported that Android had a 68.1 percent market share of all smartphones shipped during the quarter, while BlackBerry and Symbian had 4.8 percent and 4.4 percent, respectively.
The surge in demand for Android-based phones has led to large-scale marketing efforts by local mobile-phone retailers including Erajaya Swasembada, which recently opened a new store in Jakarta that sells Android products exclusively.
Meanwhile, Andreas Thamrin, a director at rival mobile-phone retailer Global Teleshop, said the wide range of brands and models has helped Android increase its market share.
“Android has new phones almost every month from various brands while BlackBerry has not released any new model since April,” Andreas said. “Having new models is important since customers are always looking for the latest,” he added.
IDC said the delay in the launch of BlackBerry 10 is causing buyers to wait until 2013 for RIM’s new models, and that has contributed to the change in operating system preference.
RIM is committed to releasing BlackBerry 10 during the first quarter in Indonesia and the rest of the world, company spokesman Oliver Pilgerstorfer said in an e-mail.
Indonesia is a hugely important market for RIM, he said, and the company continues to invest in the country, “both at a business level and as an active and responsible corporate citizen.”
Pilgerstorfer said RIM was keen to give customers a chance to experience, test and buy BlackBerry by investing in and extending its retail and after-sales presence across Indonesia.
RIM has also invested $5 million to create a BlackBerry Innovation Center in collaboration with the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) that will help Indonesian students get jobs and create businesses in the mobile applications development sector.
BlackBerry is sold in more than 10,000 stores across Indonesia, and has contributed to creating 12,000 jobs in the country, Pilgerstorfer said, citing a report by McKinsey Global Institute. McKinsey’s research also showed that BlackBerry contributed about $2 billion to Indonesia’s gross domestic product, he added.
As for overall shipments — smartphones and feature phones — IDC reported that the Indonesian mobile-phone market rose 25 percent in the second quarter from the same period last year.
“With more and more customers preferring touchscreen-based phones, IDC expects smartphone shipments in Indonesia to exceed 7 million units in 2012. Lately, vendors have been launching a slew of new products and offering smartphones from as low $50,” Darwin said.
Nokia remained the top mobile-phone vendor in Indonesia during the second quarter with its dominance in the feature phone market.
Yulita, the businesswoman in international trade, says she uses her Android as her main phone but is also holding onto her BlackBerry, at least for now, to make use of its messenger service, and won’t buy any new models. When asked on how long she would cling on to her BlackBerry, she said: “Until my friends stop using it.”