Research In Motion opened its first BlackBerry retail store in Indonesia, with additional plans to open as many as 12 more stores next year.
The move represents a significant bet that Indonesians will increasingly rely on the popular smartphones in their daily activities, doing things like surfing the Internet at dinner.
“Why Indonesia? [Because] it is a place where people love BlackBerry,” said Rohilesh Singh, Research In Motion’s country director for Indonesia. “Everywhere I go, I see families are having dinner in a restaurant and every single person at the table has a BlackBerry device.”
Rohilesh on Wednesday accompanied RIM’s co-chief executive officer Jim Balsillie for the opening of the store, called Lifestyle, at the Mal Kelapa Gading mall in North Jakarta.
The store — Southeast Asia’s second after Thailand opened one two weeks ago —will sell BlackBerry devices and accessories, and customer service representatives there will give advice about using BlackBerry products.
Gregory Wade, RIM’s regional managing director for Asia Pacific, said the Canadian company was making a big investment.
“We are looking at investments worth millions of dollars to be able to build up these stores and sustain them,” Wade said.
Andreas Thamrin, operations director at Global Teleshop, which manages the BlackBerry store, said the investment for 115-square-meter space at the atrium was about Rp 3 billion ($333,000).
“Next, we are going to open 10 to 12 more stores inside malls in Jakarta, as well as other big cities like Surabaya, Bandung, Semarang, Yogyakarta and Medan,” he said. “The investment in total would be around Rp 20 billion.”
He said the number of BlackBerry users in Indonesia would continue to increase next year, especially since people will have more disposable income and there will be more affordable handsets in the future.
“Indonesia is one of the few places where BlackBerry is actually growing,” he said. “BlackBerry represents about 25 percent of smartphone users [here], so it already has a big community.”
BlackBerry devices account for 40 percent of sales for Global Teleshop, which has 250 outlets across the country. Only about 35 of the national retailer’s stores are carrying a single brand. Aside from BlackBerry, it had operated outlets for Nokia, Samsung and LG, Andreas said.
Sugiono Wiyono, president director of telecommunication company Trikomsel Oke, which owns Oke Shop gadget store, said that such integrated services suited big cities.
“[RIM] has taken it to the next level. We will see more stores like this in the future,” he said, adding that Trikomsel has plans to build a similar store.
Research firm IDC has estimated that the annual shipment of BlackBerrys to Indonesia would reach nearly 4 million by the end of year and 9.7 million by 2015. BlackBerry market share in Indonesia would reach 42 percent by the end of year.