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David Pendered

Atlanta airport concessionaire to close BlackBerry stores, replace them with shops for Apple iPhones, etc

By David Pendered

Atlanta’s airport is poised to give BlackBerry the boot and open its doors to Apple.

BlackBerry phone

BlackBerry phones have lost so much market share that a concessionaire at Atlanta’s airport wants to replace the line with Apple products. Credit: BlackBerry

The sale of Blackberry smart phones has fallen so dramatically that an airport concessionaire plans to replace its two Blackberry shops with Apple resellers. Only one other airport in the country has an Apple reseller, according to legislation pending before the Atlanta City Council. The other airport wasn’t identified.

The change in product line was requested by a joint-venture company whose prime partner failed to win one of the airport concessions contracts the city council awarded earlier this year. Miami-based Areas USA had submitted a proposal to manage food and beverage outlets at the airport, in addition to the retail spaces it now runs with its joint-venture partner, ARM, or Atlanta Retail Management.

Areas USA is a subsidiary of the Barcelona-based airport giant Grupo Areas SA. In the recent competition for airport concessions contracts, Areas USA received the lowest score among the seven companies that sought one of the major packages of food and beverage concessions, according to the city’s score sheet.

Areas USA was ranked poorly by the airport’s review team in categories including general capacity, business plan, and overall project experience and performance.

Now, Areas ARM says it can boost profits for itself and the airport if the city allows it to dump BlackBerry and replace it with Apple products. The joint-venture company won its airport contract in 2008, with electronics including BlackBerry, apparel lines including Reebok and Calvin Klein, and the Cafe Intermezzo coffee house.

The joint-venture company wants to close its BlackBerry shops in Concourses A and B, and replace them with Apple resellers, according to supporting documents attached to the legislation that’s before the council.

There’s no doubt that BlackBerry has been clobbered in the smart phone competition.

The value of Blackberry’s company has plummeted more than $75 billion in five years. The drop has taken the market value of Research in Motion from more than $80 billion to $3.64 billion.

Values are not on an upward trend: In February, a Jefferies analyst put the target share price at up to $17, and Wednesday the stocks were trading below $7 a share.

Here’s some telling language from the package before the council:

  • “Over the past two years, the BlackBerry Store concept has seen a steady decline in sales. The decline in sales is due to a dramatic shift in the smartphone industry.
  • “BlackBerry’s market share over the last three years has gone from a high of 41 percent in 2009 to a current market share of 8.8 percent. Conversely, the Apple and Android operating systems have experienced an enormous growth in market share, going from 33 percent in 2009 to 82 percent in 2011. This recent success of iPhone, iPad, Apple and Android products has been unprecedented.
  • “After extensive market research and review of the smartphone and mobile electronics industries by Areas ARM, it has been determined that Apple authorized reseller locations are the most advantageous for Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.
  • “An Apple reseller location is one of the most sought after retail locations for major malls and street locations in the coutnry due to their ability to boast one of the highest per square foot volume numbers of any retailer in the world.”

The Atlanta City Council could vote on the matter as early as Sept. 4. If and when the legislation is approved, it would be sent to Mayor Kasim Reed for his signature.


David Pendered

David Pendered, Managing Editor, is an Atlanta journalist with more than 30 years experience reporting on the region’s urban affairs, from Atlanta City Hall to the state Capitol. Since 2008, he has written for print and digital publications, and advised on media and governmental affairs. Previously, he spent more than 26 years with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and won awards for his coverage of schools and urban development. David graduated from North Carolina State University and was a Western Knight Center Fellow.


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