Have you seen the movie documentary "Searching for Sugar Man"? It's about a singer song-writer named Sixto Rodriguez, that recorded two albums in the early 1970's but never got off the ground in the U.S.. After failing as career artist in the U.S., Sixto discontinued his music career and stayed in Detroit. There he worked in several industries mainly in manual labor, and for the most part had a lifestyle close to a state of poverty.
However his music was very popular in South Africa (as well as Australia and New Zealand and several other African countries). In fact, according to the movie, he was more popular in South Africa than the Beatles or the Rolling stones and he never knew it. Not only that, but he never made a penny from all those albums sold.
In1998 his eldest daughter came across a website dedicated to him. After coming into contact with the authors of the website and learning of her father's long-standing fame in South Africa, Sixto went on his first South African tour playing six concerts in front of thousands of fans. To make a long story short, today he is an international acclaimed artist and his concerts are booked solid.
The main issue of this introduction is to show that just because someone or something is not that popular in the U.S., does not mean that it cannot become a success.
The Sunday Times of South Africa conducts a yearly survey among South African youths - the Generation Next brand survey - in an effort to find out what are the coolest and most popular brands in the country. The 2012 survey winners are as follows.
In the category Coolest Overall Brand, the winners are:
- BlackBerry (BBRY)
- Coca Cola (NYSE:KO)
- Nike (NYSE:NKE)
- Apple Mac (NASDAQ:AAPL)
- Mercedes Benz
- KFC (NYSE:YUM)
- McDonald's (NYSE:MCD)
- Guess (NYSE:GES)
- Nokia (NYSE:NOK)
In the category Coolest Cell Phone, the winners are:
In the category Coolest Gadget, the winners are:
- Playstation 3
- iPad (Tablet)
In the category top computer brand, the winners are:
- HP (NYSE:HPQ)
- LG (LG)
If you noticed BlackBerry did not get the award in the last category, but only because it doesn't make computers. For if it did, I am sure it would have won this award category also. I'm sorry Apple, Samsung, Nokia and Sony, better luck next year ...
The question is, why is BlackBerry so popular among South African youths? If you look at the table below, BlackBerry is the number one smartphone brand in South Africa among all groups and not just young people. Surprisingly, Nokia is in second place with Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android in third place (but catching up) and Apple in fourth place, with WP8 in last place.
(data from http://mybroadband.co.za)
The bottom line is, I don't think BlackBerry will have trouble selling the Z10, Q10 or the Q5 in South Africa any time soon.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours. I wrote this article myself, and it expresses my own opinions. I am not receiving compensation for it (other than from Seeking Alpha). I have no business relationship with any company whose stock is mentioned in this article.