BlackBerry10 saves the day?

It’s here. RIM, after months of being in hiding, has come out from behind the curtains and presented to the world, the BlackBerry10. Oh and they’ve changed the name of the company(to BlackBerry) while they were at it. Oh and they created a Super Bowl commercial too. If you’re reading between the lines, you might smell a faint whiff of desperation in the air. Classic case of rise of the underdog or the last cry of a falling empire?

For a company that was out of the scene for over 18 months(although they had a 4G LTE BlackBerry PlayBook launch at some point during this mobile market hiatus) and missed a big part of smartphone mania, to  launch a new phone and hope it turns things around seems like a tall ask. For a late-to-the-party entrant,it appears like this phone has alot riding on it – Brand Cachet. The company’s fortunes. Stocks. Consumer perceptions. Jobs.

While it may appear that I’m writing them off, I’ve been a believer in their offering. I’m aware there’s a whole market out there that loves their BlackBerry devices and swear by it, especially for its physical Querty keypad and efficiency in syncing business emails. Infact, that was a very good move to ensure there’s a non touchscreen variant(the Q10) as well – ensuring it doesn’t alienate its base consumer.

Although, I think their launch and marketing strategy could have been better. I’m going to take an objective stab at a few things I think they could have done from an advertising/marketing stand point

1. Superbowled?: While I thought the Super Bowl commercial was nice in terms of what it aimed to do(draw attention/cut through clutter), I’d like to know what metrics they were looking to affect. Awareness? Those who needed to know about this launch, already knew. And those who didn’t, weren’t going to stop right there and look it up. Afterall, this is at a point where consumer faith in the brand was fast diminishing. I feel like a constant reminder (Times Square activation for instance) might have possibly been better than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it superbowl attempt.

2. Built to keep you Moving: I liked this commercial for what it was trying to say – that this phone won’t get in the way of life(Reminded me of a old Windows phone commercial), however, without referencing BlackBerry Hub as the reason for this, it could get yawned at. Yes smartphones have moved from being just tech-packed offerings to providing smooth user experiences, but for a brand that’s been away so long, more focus on specs wouldn’t be such a bad thing. Another suggestion would be to have 15 sec spots created to highlight new product features.

3. So, who are you?: If a company is going to attempt to relaunch itself, after being incognito for a while, how about a branding commercial to go with it? Maybe a sneak peak into what goes on behind the scenes? A voiceover explaining what has changed? What this would do is melt the ice and bring a sense of relatability towards the company. Android,Apple(that’s the only time I’ll mentioned them in this post,I promise) and even Windows have built-up brand imagery; somehow BlackBerry falls short here.

4. Wow me: The BlackBerry Balance and Peek and Flow are two very unique and interesting features that could have used a little more spotlight. Put it down to Canadian modesty if you must, but the smartphone market is already divided between Apple, Android and lately, Windows; if you want people to talk about you when you haven’t been around for a while, you might want to blow your own trumpet a bit.

5. Hold onto the attention: BlackBerry needs a game plan for what they intend to do after the initial launch excitement dies down. They’ve managed to stir the market up quite a bit, it would be nice if they retained consumer attention and market buzz – either through teasing out the phone’s features through advertising, constant audience engagement or (like its PlayBook offering) look at branching out into other gadget markets?

I believe that the BlackBerry10 will be a good phone and live up to all that it promises. It looks poised to win a chunk of the Droid and Apple market over as well. What I’m rooting for however, is to see if the brand can make a full circle comeback. I’d like to see that happen. 

3 thoughts on “BlackBerry10 saves the day?

  1. Hey Wes,

    The reason I feel that BB won’t make the full circle comeback you speak of, is that they’re always the last to get into the party. The only revolutionary device (ie where they got there first) is the classic BlackBerry. Each following product came after others had been well established. Though I did admire their Manny Pacquito Playbook commercial. There has been no real reason to believe this would change. BB10 has just created the buzz due to BB’s long hiatus. Granted that share prices, since, have gone up about 15%, but remember between 2010 and 2012 it fell 90%.

    All in all, once the buzz goes down and BB10 is no longer the new thing, BB will vanish back into a hiatus. Become an underdog once again. Come back with BB11 when it’s nearly obsolete. Maybe this will be their legacy. The perennial underdogs from Canada

    • Aakash, I like your point of view. About always being late to the party, I somewhat disagree. They’ve been at the helm of innovation in the niche business market. However it’s when they started branching out and trying to be everything to everyone, is where they hit rocky road and couldn’t deliver.
      Yes if BlackBerry continues to lurk in the shadows post this initial launch phase of the BB10, they might very well go the way you predict. I’m hoping they either use this opportunity to sell, team up with a more established player (Windows?) or start looking at other categories for brand BlackBerry to venture into.

      • Wes,

        I believe at this point it is safe for me to reply here without a smidgen of doubt. Might I say, “Told you so!”

        I had claimed that once the buzz went down, BB would fall back into the shadows. I will admit, BB didn’t get all the hype and adulations I had predicted. I mean it’s not the best product, but it is certainly a very good product.

        The share prices have fallen (surprisingly) since the US release. The z10 was released in the US on March 26, 2013. Since then the highest the share price has gone (at a given point in time rather than closing prices) is $15.55 on March 28. The highest closing price since has been $15.20 on April 2. In contrast, the shares looked really good following it’s release in Canada (Feb 5). The highest price at a given point was $17.22 and the highest closing was $17.15 (both Feb 8). Corresponding figures during the anticipation (Dec 1 – Jan 31) were $18.24 and $18.09 (both Jan 25). This goes to prove that once the excitement died, it would go back into the shadows.

        I think that instead of this product, BB should’ve kept at the drawing board and come out with another revolutionising product in it’s traditional business market. It looks like this will be their legacy, the perennial underdogs from Canada.

        I’ll probably get to putting this on my blog ( sometime this weekend.

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