Director - Sales (India)
RIM India (P) Ltd.
Tell us about the existing BlackBerry range in India?
Our range comprises of both CDMA and GSM. We have close-to 12 devices in the GSM range and four in the CDMA range. The range is spread across the Bold, Curve and Torch series in India.
Is it true that currently RIM is just busy with enhancing the Bold and Curve series?
If you look at the history of the Curve devices, the first Curve device was 8520 and it was launched in India for the first time. But it is not true that we are focussing on Curve and Bold only as we have launched Torch devices as well. As of now, we have around three models in the Torch series. As we move forward in the next year, the Indian consumers could see a lot of new entrants.
Share details about your product distribution structure in India?
When we started our operations, enterprise was our focus where customers still vouch for BlackBerry. But slowly we started tapping the other consumer segments. As of now, we primarily work with three partners - Redington, Ingram and BPI. Redington is taking care of retailing of the consumer devices, Ingram takes care of enterprise customers and BPI sells accessories, another big area where we see a lot of growth happening. Redington caters to the regional distributors who then give it to the resellers.
We don't normally comment on the numbers, but if you look at the current width of the distribution, we are serving close-to about 4,000 retail points across India.
Do you have BlackBerry Experience Zones for the customers to touch and feel?
About 18 months back, we started with the concept of "BlackBerry Experience Zone" for the end-consumer to touch and feel our range. There are two variants. One is the Shop-in- Shop and the other is the exclusive BlackBerry counter. The whole idea is to acquaint the user with ample possibilities with BlackBerry phone and BlackBerry services.
Here, you get to experience both our CDMA and GSM devices and also our accessories. At these Experience Zones, customers can go and get the company’s end-to-end experience whether it is application or services.
What is the criteria of choosing a partner for different models of partnership?
The potential and the location of the outlet are the prime parameters under consideration. All the exclusive counters are franchisee-based models.
How is the training part handled for the sales force of partner?
Training obviously plays a very important role, particularly in the kind of devices and services which we offer. Thus, we have trainers in the field, who train our retail partners, train our In- shop promoters for both exclusive and shop-in-shop. We emphasize on good training and because of numerous applications are getting bundled every day. Not only this, we conduct test too to gauge the performance, so it is an end-to-end programme.
How has been journey of RIM so far in India?
The brand acceptance of BlackBerry in India is great and we thank our consumers for that. Our vision is to reach more and more consumers across the country and for that we place strong emphasis on getting into the tier-II and III cities too. We work very closely with our operator partners too, unlike others. We see value in our relationship with the service partners too as an alternate means to reach customers. Though our individual end-consumer is itself our brand ambassador, as we believe "word of mouth" plays an important influencer. Still, whenever required, we have celebrities supporting our launches like Torch was launched by Deepika Padukone and then we had Salman Khan launching our PlayBook.
BlackBerry is still considered to be a premium brand. Are you trying to work towards mystifying the myth?
Well, this question is nicely timed as we have seen BlackBerry evolve and uniquely fit in the corporate and consumer segment globally and here in India too. We have started working towards making our brand pervasive across these categories together with our partners in retail and carrier partners. Thus, to begin with, RIM along with Vodafone has launched "Go BBM" service plan, which lets users use only BBM (BlackBerry Messenger). This service plan comprises of various bundled options wherein Vodafone subscribers buying BlackBerry Curve 8520 or 9300 can avail one year free "Go BBM" service. Existing pre-paid and postpaid customer can activate this service at a monthly fee of Rs.129 only. Additionally, prepaid users can also subscribe to daily "Go BBM" service plan at a nominal charge of Rs.5 per day.