BlackBerry Ltd (NADSAQ:BBRY)’s stock is down today about 1.6%, Wednesday the 18th, but this is nothing new for its shareholders. The company’s stock price has been suffering over the last couple of months, amidst sluggish sales and a strategic review that could include a sale of the firm, announced last month.
Today’s decline in stock price comes after the launch of a new smartphone, the Z30. With a 5-inch touch-screen, the Z30 arrives to compete with a line of large-display smartphones, like Samsung Electronics Co. Ltd. (KRX:005930)’s Galaxy S4. With this new device, the management expects to revamp BlackBerry Ltd (NADSAQ:BBRY)’s lagging sales for its latest suite of handsets, which included the Z10 an Q10 phones, both of which experienced poor sales in North America.
But, what’s really eye-catching about this release is that the event took place in Malaysia. Even further, this country and Hong Kong will be among the first markets to get the Z30, as of October 5th. But you might wonder, why Malaysia?
As it turns out, Malaysia is a market with 137% mobile penetration rate. This means that there are more phones than people, and each individual (the country’s population is 28 million people) owns, on average, 1.3 phones. That’s simply mind-blowing. In the U.S., for example, this number is only 61%.
Annamalai Muthu, managing director at BlackBerry Malaysia, said that “BlackBerry’s subscriber base in Malaysia has nearly tripled over the past couple of years”. “Malaysia’s young population offers a fertile market for smartphone makers. Also, a government-run program to boost smartphone use has helped to drive sales of mobile devices” (WSJ), and should continue to do so going forward. Finally, ease of shipping is another factor that influenced on the decision to launch the Z30 in Malaysia first.
Southeast Asia in general remains an important market for BlackBerry Ltd (NASDAQ:BBRY) as it is the only one where it still enjoys of considerable market presence and can compete with Android phones and Apple Inc. (NASDAQ:AAPL)’s iPhones. In Indonesia, for example, BlackBerry holds a leading market share, according to the research firm IDC. However, demand for full-screen smartphones still seems bigger in Malaysia.
Disclosure: Javier Hasse holds no position in any stocks mentioned