The BlackBerry name has tarnished this year. First, the release of the BlackBerry PlayBook, the hopeful iPad competition, received less than mixed reviews. The sales ended up minuscule compared to that of the iPad. Next, in August, there was this little thing called the London Riot. BlackBerry’s BBM messaging service was said to be the medium of communication for the rioters, thus connecting the BlackBerry name with criminal acts of looting and property destruction. And most recently, there was the 3-day world-wide RIM outage that disrupted the e-mail, messaging, and internet services for millions of customers – this ended today.
These factors, especially the outages, could not have happened at a more inopportune time for BlackBerry. Next Tuesday kicks off RIM’s annual U.S. developer conference – where they had planed to drum-up support for their new line of smartphones built on the QNX operating system and the updated BlackBerry PlayBook 2.0. I’m sure they were hoping for a lot of positive attention and support, especially with the launch of the iPhone 4S and the growing success of Google’s Android phones; the competition is getting thick.
For customers and investors, the recent past must make you wonder whether or not BlackBerry can keep its service running and grow as a company – and whether or not you should jump the shark. So will BlackBerry be able to survive and work past these issues? I think they can, but in order to survive, they need to implement some superb marketing and PR… oh, and also they might need to rethink RIM.
BlackBerry’s big selling point has been their heightened security. They need to market this selling point and not let this outage make customers think they are any less secure. Security is big and should be a concern of smartphone users, especially with m-commerce and portable business becoming more and more popular.
In addition to their security, they need to market to the correct demographic. RIM pushed BlackBerries at London youth, and it got them the London Riots. Stick to what you are already known for – corporate and business – and grow that industry, there’s more business to tap into.
There is a reason why BlackBerries are referred to as “CrackBerries,” they have a devout, loyal following. Public relation needs to act fast and clean up the current outage mess, pacifying their BlackBerry advocates. BlackBerry wouldn’t want this lapse in service to push those CrackBerry users into rehab, causing them to switch over to Apple or Android.
Finally, hope that the reviews of the PlayBook 2.0 and QNX phones are killer! They need to distract the consumer and give them something positive to associate the BlackBerry name with!