By Laju Iren & Geraldine Anunukem
IT is no longer news that Whatsapp, the world’s most popular messaging application will not be available on the BlackBerry platform come 2017. What might be news however, especially to the Facebook owned company, is that many Nigerian BlackBerry faithful say they will choose the Canadian mobile brand over Whatsapp.
Although BlackBerry might have lost face all over the world, it is still a dearly beloved brand in the world’s most populous black nation for a variety of reasons. The easy-to-use physical keyboard associated with many of the older blackberry models is one of them. Although Android and Apple devices have relegated the physical QWERTY to the middle ages, it is still a feature loved by many Nigerians.
Another point to note is the price factor. As a result of the BlackBerry boom in Nigeria few years ago, the country’s major networks designed special services for subscribers who used the brand. The average customers internet needs can be met with a one-off payment of N1000 a month. This feature, unavailable on other platforms makes the use of data more expensive on other Smartphones.
Caterer, Princess Nwadinobi is attracted to the blackberry brand for this very reason. “I don’t really like the fact that Whatsapp is leaving BlackBerry. With a cheap subscription fee, I can browse easily every month on my BlackBerry unlike other phone brands that will cost me more. I think I’ll still stick to my BlackBerry because I can talk and do business with my customers through the BlackBerry messenger and Facebook messenger.
Although device lovers, Nigerians are feeling the crunch of a dwindling economy, with the dollar rising faster against the naira like a cup of Ijebu garri in cold water. For millions of blackberry users across the country, getting a new device simply to accommodate an app might not be top priority.
Mr. Sanmi Mosiko for example, a student at Kogi state University is more interested using his finances to further his education. He told Glamtech: “I won’t get a new phone even when I can no longer use Whatsapp on my BlackBerry. I’d rather do without the app.”
There are still a few who might leave BlackBerry for Whatsapp. School teacher, Miss Amarachi Williams told Glamtech that she would have to get herself a new phone that makes use of the app because whatsapp is important to her.
Be that as it may, it is unlikely that you’ll find a BlackBerry shelf when you go to a dealer in brand new devices-at least not in the Lagos metropolis. But that doesn’t mean that BBs are no longer sold in Nigeria. Just like with almost everything ‘Tokunbo’, the second-hand mobile market here is a thriving one, and Blackberries are still a major part of that market. Nigerians are still using Blackberries every day and that’s unlikely to change overnight or even in the next three months when Whatsapp will say goodbye to Blackberry.