Tech watchers were bummed last week when Research In Motion announced that for the current quarter, its margins will narrow and earnings will be lower than analysts had expected. The concern is that RIM, to keep up with the Joneses–er, Jobses–will have to spend more on its BlackBerry to ensure the device stays as technologically hip as any iPhone.
But I think the BlackBerry is a history-making position: Nailbiting, yes, but exciting too. True, as I’ve written before, Android is just one major force in changing smartphones for the better–meaning that device technology will allow for greater, more multi-channel marketing efforts than ever. And the iPhone is what proved that advanced, multi-media capabilities and services can indeed exist on a handset.
But RIM, with its BlackBerry, is the king of smartphone branding. Though techies preferred the Treo in 2004 and 2005, brand awareness for the RIM device back then was much keener among mainstream consumers. Both well-heeled teenagers and on-the-go executives have sported them–thus marketers with divergent audiences would do well to hone campaigns to BlackBerry users. Indeed, marketers have long fussed about the best way to reach audiences via BlackBerry email. Heck, “BlackBerry Thumb” and “CrackBerry” are all but AMA-accepted illnesses in today’s society.
So RIM has the means to maintain its position as the smartphone of all smartphones. It’s doing so already. In May we noted that the BlackBerry adopted many of the popular iPhone features, from a much more lush UI to more media options. And when I was at a local AT&T shop two weeks ago upgrading from my crappy first-gen RAZR, four people within an hour asked the salesperson if the new BlackBerrys were in yet.
RIM won’t go away. And that’s good news for marketers. With its features and branding, it will lead marketing opportunities for a wide variety of smartphone-users for device-generations to come.
Eydie Cubarrubia, Marketing Communications Manager, mobileStorm
“I’d rather you text me”