Indonesian "BlackBerry Fever" Sparks Stampede; RIM Questioned by Authorities

A shopping center in South Jakarta, Indonesia, erupted in chaos last week after RIM's new BlackBerry Bold 9790 smartphone was offered to the first 1,000 buyers at half off suggested retail price.

UPDATED: RIM's Andrew Cobham, BlackBerry president/director for the company in Indonesia, has been named as a suspect in this incident at the Jakarta mall, according to the Agence French Presse, and could face a five-year prison sentence.

Man, those Indonesians sure do love BlackBerrys. So much so that thousands of BlackBerry addicts in Jakarta caused a violent stampede at a popular shopping center last week when Research In Motion’s (RIM) brand new BlackBerry Bold 9790 device, a.k.a., the BlackBerry "Bellagio," went on sale.


This new BlackBerry was launched in Indonesia, and it's currently not even available in the United States or Canada, so demand for the device is high.

The chaos reportedly led to multiple injuries, including a few broken bones, and investigators are currently questioning event organizers, event venue management at the Pacific Place mall in the Sudirman Business District in South Jakarta, security officers and RIM representatives, according to The Jakarta Post.

A Jakarta police chief was also quoted as saying that an individual from the event’s organizers has been "named as a suspect," for negligence, but not detained. And the police are expected to "announce more suspects" today…whatever that means.

The BlackBerry stampede ensued after event organizers offered the first 1,000 people waiting in line a Bold 9790 for about $US250 or half off the suggested retail price, according to The Jakarta Post, and then police, concerned with the number of people looking to purchase BlackBerrys, started turning eager buyers away. Not long after the chaos erupted, police reportedly shut down the event to avoid further injuries.

The Indonesian news source also noted that not everyone at the event was a "BlackBerry enthusiasts," and that some attendees were simply "jockeys," who were compensated by gadget resellers to stand in line to buy the discounted gadgets.

Yikes. I'd hate to see what would happen if Apple offered discounted iPhones in Jakarta. Oh, wait. That would never happen, because Apple never discounts brand new products.

All joking aside, this news highlights the fact that despite decreasing U.S. sales, RIM and BlackBerry are still extremely popular and still growing in markets outside of North America. (It also spotlights human beings' seemingly irresistible need to act like absolute fools and endanger themselves and those around them just to save a little bit of cash, but that's another story altogether.)

Check out the video clip below for a look at the choas at last week's Bold 9790 launch event in Jakarta.


NEW! Download the State of the CIO 2017 report