Can the Blackberry 10 Save a Company?

On January 30, 2013, Blackberry, formerly known as Research in Motion Limited (RIM), hosted its BlackBerry 10 launch event where it revealed the new Blackberry 10 smartphone and operating system top management hopes will save the company from sharp declines in market share.

During his report on the launch event, Mashable editor-in-chief Lance Ulanoff wrote that BlackBerry “did all it could today in its bid for relevance” and suggested that President and CEO, Thorsten Heins was “pushing the once-dominant mobile brand into an invigorating, though uncertain, future.”

In its third quarter of fiscal 2013 report released on December 20, 2012, RIM shared that revenue for the third quarter of fiscal 2013 was only $2.7 billion. This showed that revenue was down 5 percent from the $2.9 billion reported in Q2 and down 47 percent from the $5.2 billion reported in Q3 of fiscal 2012.

Although the Q3 adjusted net loss was $114 million, Heins called RIM’s new direction “an exciting time” and suggested that Blackberry’s “carrier partners, application developers and employees are all looking forward to unveiling the innovation and excitement of BlackBerry 10 on January 30, 2013.”

While the company seems to be putting forward a very positive vibe with the Blackberry 10, it has openly acknowledged how important the U.S. market will be to its turnaround efforts. CEO Thorsten Heins told the AP, “You got to win here to win everywhere else…We’ve lost market share quite a bit, to put it mildly, and we absolutely need BlackBerry 10 to turn us around.”

Alicia Keys for Blackberry 10

During the BlackBerry 10 launch event, Heins announced that Blackberry had appointed a new Global Creative Director for the company: Alicia Keys.

Ulanoff likened Keys’ role at Blackberry to that of a “brand ambassador” and suggested that Keys will serve as a motivator for other “iPhone junkies” who were longtime Blackberry users that grew tired of the innovation gap between Blackberry devices and other smartphones. The company hopes that Alicia Keys’ support of the brand and apparent willingness to re-embrace BlackBerry will urge other consumers and businesses to do the same. After the announcement, Keys was quick to share the news with her 12 million followers on Twitter, as seen below.

 

The star is also clearly being used as a promotional lure, which was made apparent by The BlackBerry Z10 Keep Moving with Alicia Keys Sweepstakes that started on March 4 and ended on March 20, 2013.

The contest’s grand prize package included two new BlackBerry Z10 smartphones, airfare for two adults to London, two nights’ accommodations, two tickets to an Alicia Keys concert (on either May 30 or 31, 2013), £500 in spending money, and an exclusive VIP Meet & Greet with Alicia Keys (ARV: $8,350 US).

The contest didn’t require that you make a purchase to enter, but participants were required to log in to their phone carrier account (AT&T, Verizon, and T-Mobile) to access the entry form. Upon reviewing the official rules you won’t be surprised to find that “by entering this Sweepstakes, you understand that you are providing your information to (your phone carrier) and you authorize (your phone carrier) to transfer the information you provided on your Entry to Sponsor for the purposes of administering the Sweepstakes.”

What better way to find out just how many users per major American provider are interested in your new smartphone? Blackberry plans to conduct the grand prize and first prize drawings on March 27, 2013, so expect to hear more about the winners and the sweepstakes VIP Meet & Greet in the future.

Blackberry 10 Will Save RIM?

blackberry 10In Lance Ulanoff’s opinion, “The Z10 ascent and Blackberry’s rise from the ashes will be slow.” In his Mashable review of the Blackberry 10 and Blackberry OS, Pete Pachal agrees. Pachal states that, “BB10 is also coming way late to the smartphone game, and it’s unclear whether it will ever get the support it needs—from consumers, businesses and developers—to really succeed.”

Other technology writers are of a different opinion. CNET‘s Ben Parr says, “BlackBerry is betting its future on the Z10 and its new OS, but they won’t be enough to prevent the company’s inevitable demise.” Parr places a great emphasis on the BlackBerry’s mobile app offerings, which at the time were limited to just 70,000 apps—a drop in the bucket when compared to Apple and Android’s massive app libraries of about 800,000 apps each. The fact that the range of mobile apps on the Blackberry 10 may not effect consumer opinion until they take a look at some of the popular apps that were missing, such as: Google Maps, Netflix, YouTube, Hulu, and Instagram.

Fearing that consumers wouldn’t welcome the new smartphone without access to their favorite mobile applications, Blackberry issued a press release on March 21 stating that the BlackBerry 10 now offers more than 100,000 applications to customers. A pretty timely announcement since the smartphone was scheduled to debut in the United States on AT&T (starting at $199.99) on March 22, 2013.

Forbes tech journalist, Larry Magid had the following review for Blackberry 10:

While there have been some reports of an anticipated surge of defectors from Android and iPhone, I don’t see that coming in large numbers, at least in the U.S. market. If anything I see a lot more people switching over to Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 than to either the Blackberry Z10 or Q10. Apple and Google should pay attention to the reemergence of BlackBerry but I don’t see anyone losing too much sleep in Cupertino or Mountain View.”

According to Richard Piasentin, BlackBerry’s vice president and managing director for the U.S., the Blackberry 10 is only the beginning. During an interview with TechnoBuffalo, Piasentin explained, “We will be deploying many devices into the market, Blackberry 10 is the beginning of something larger than just the smartphone business.” This type of forward-thinking could prove beneficial if the company can continuously produce phones of this quality and increase their value in the competitive technology market.

Feel like sharing your opinion about the Blackberry 10? Send a tweet using the hashtags #Blackberry10 or #TeamBlackberry to show your love. If you don’t have a Twitter account, you can tell your friends that you’re still loyal by using the #TeamBlackberry tab available on the Blackberry Facebook Fan Page.

Suggested Reading

  • CNet | Why the Z10 and Q10 will not save BlackBerry
  • Mashable | Here’s How the BlackBerry Z10 Stacks Up With Competitors
  • American Marketing Association | BlackBerry Z10 Gets Little Promo Support from Retailers
Image via Just Jared / via

Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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  • Some people live and breathe by the Blackberry (aka, “crackberry”), so they may have a fighting chance to win people over again