| | 04-06-12, 08:37 AM Thread Author #1
[NOT A TROLL THREAD] What's wrong with RIM #865
this isn't meant to be a troll thread, so calm down and stop rolling your eyes. I just want to present you my impressions after a 1 year observation of RIM. I dont want to post this into the other threads because in these threads the problems are discussed from a technical point of view. They are more or less: RIM should build these, fix this, do that and then the users will come back. Sorry to tell you, but it's not that easy.
Somewhere in this forum I read a users opinion that he thinks RIM shouldn't even hire an advertising company. According to this user they are better of if they did the exact oppisite of what apple is doing. Sorry, but this is absurd. [irony]Apples success is completely random and they dont know what they are doing.[/irony] RIM needs advertisment and additionally they need a communication consultant company (or better an army of them).
But let me start with my personal RIM history:
In december 2010 I got a hint from a dev friend that BlackBerry will give away their new tablet to every developer who delivers an app. I didn't hesitate and built one. The approval process was a pain in the a** and it took some time until I got the OK. I got the PlayBook a while after the launch although it was stated that ["developers are our priority"] (or something like this) by a RIM forum moderator.
I got my free PlayBook, I was happy and continued to read CrackBerry and some other ressources to be informed how RIM is going to make this device a success. I wanted to see how the things developed before I started to do another app. I was convinced that the missing features would be delivered very soon. I never(!) thought about doing a second app until they delivered these features. The process of approval did it's part to prevent me from doing something too. ( but ATM I'm doing the concept for another app. )
Now it's about one year that I started to stalk RIM. And I watched and I watched and I watched. I'm still watching because I don't understand how a company that delivers a usefull product like the BlackBerry can be bashed so badly by the markets. Lazaridis was right when he complained that some things aren't fair anymore.
As I'm a graphic designer I'm surrounded by Apple users. I never owned an apple product (except an iPod Shuffle which I got for free). I think apple is the satan. I'm NOT an apple fan. But Apples popularity made me asking why RIMs image is so bad? So I started to compare apples and RIMs strategies. And after one year I think I've found several reasons that conclude to one big statement:
It's the image, not the technology (and this isn't surprising ).
Lets go through this step by step.
Question: does anyone remember Sega? Or ownes some newer games of them? Or knows what Sega is doing today? Let's go back to the 90s: SEGA vs. Nintendo. Sega was more innovative than Nintendo. They had the cooler characters. They launched their consoles earlier than Nintendo and with better hardware. But they had one problem: They were focused so much on Nintendo as competitor and the target group of gamers around 10-16 that they weren't aware that Sony was about to stab them from behind with their Playstation.
The Dreamcast was killed by Sony before SEGA could even react. The Playstation was built for SEGAs target group: the cool hardcore gamers that celebrated their nerdery in dark cellars hidden from their parents. Meanwhile Nintendo established their NES, SNES and N64 in childrooms and livingrooms. This plumber and his cute dinosaur did the rest. SEGA was cool but Nintendo was family friendly and as parents pay for the toys it was obivous what would happen. (btw. Sega is producing games today, software. wasn't there a rumor that RIM is going to port their core features to android and iOS? Is RIM going to be a software company too?)
SEGA was black, Nintendo was white.
RIM is black, Apple is white.
In the 90s and early 2000s there was the internet but no mobile browsing. RIM was the only company that offered something like a mobile experience. Nokia had their clamshell devices (the big grey bricks) but they were ugly. That was the whole market. Mobile internet, smartphones even mobile phones were for business guys who could afford them. Not for consumers.
But when the electronics and mobile bandwidth became cheaper and cheaper nearly everyone could afford this technology. Here's one of RIMs biggest problems: they never changed their image. They had the business image and stuck to it. So consumers thought that blackberrys weren't meant for them. And while RIM was sitting on their island, of which they thought it was the whole market, the market grew bigger and Apple got the leading edge position which was meant to be RIMs. RIM simply missed to address the consumer. (just for the guys who think "stupid, corporate is all right" the consumer market is bigger than the corporate and nowadays it's not easy to diffenetiate to where the work is finished and the evening beginns. everyone is a consumer.)
RIM has to overcome it's image. Easy said, I'll explain later how.
When Apple launched a innovative communication device they didn't throw into the blue. They relied on a strongly convinced user base. This user base consisted mostly of creatives. Creatives are addicted to new and innovative ways to communicate. To figure out how they could use new toys to communicate is a pleasure for them. Apple could rely on this behaviour and they built up iTunes to satisfy the creativese demand for publicity. Money did the rest. The win win situation was: Apple needed customers, the customers wanted to have something extraordinary, the creatives wanted something
new an innovative to play with. Apple gave the people a status symbol, the creatives made it usable, the people payed for it. Everyone was satisfied.
What I don't understand is: RIM/BlackBerry is where the money is. Creatives/Artists need money. Business users are happy if they look at art (or at least have something creative to play with in their pauses). Why isn't RIM generating a win win situation for artist and business men. RIM should adress creatives in some way. I think the phones are the major problem here. Although RIM has some touchscreen devices the public associates RIM with keyboards. That looks very antique for a creative. Even the playbook didn't had any revolutionary features. It is a good device and I love it but if you sum every thing up there's nothing that makes the Playbook or RIMs phones revolutionary. But finally: RIM is where the money is, so RIM should address artists.
But thats not all: you get creatives if you do something creative. The money is just the first step. If you have some outstanding works in your showcase other creatives will follow. Creatives are the missing crownjewel.
Lets take a closer look at the users image. If I compare the images of blackberry users to apple users I see this:
Ask yourself to which group do you want to belong and then ask yourself how you want to be perceived in public? In times of bank crisis and occupy movements, citizen journalists and youtube the public perception of blackberrys image is very close to be immoral.
blackberry user representatives behaviour (i.e.: Kevin):
CrackBerry.com Podcast: Episode 83 - RIM's not dead; Kevin wins the Internet - YouTube - some tired looking unshaved guys
#BeBold - The Sexy and I Know it Workout Plan! - YouTube - speechless.
these are just a few bad examples, but these few can ruin an overall good impression.
I think it's true if I say that we all aren't models but not everyone of us is trying to get in front of a camera. Or getting attention at all. Or beeing funny. Using a mobile phone isn't cool anymore. Hide your blackberrys and dont use the holsters. They make you look like grandfathers. Have you ever seen an apple user running around with an iPad on a chain. (If yes, kill him by smashing his iPad on his head.) Don't do this. Image is about style and this isn't style at all. It's the equivalent of a big titted, blonde girlfriend in a short skirt next to your pimped Ford while you are showing around your grills. Oh and please get rid of this training suite. It's not very helpfull for marketing if someone see's you sweating and talking about BlackBerry. It's not design, it's not style, it's not even behaviour. Nothing personally, it's just about image.
kevin: shave yourself and get a haircut next time you're in front of the camera.
regular blackberry user:
I can't break it down to a certain example but my impression of the average blackberry user is that he isn't very sophisticated when it comes to technical questions. It's more like he's calling the IT support instead of solving his/her problems on their own. That makes Android users lough and Apple users shake their heads. The blackberry user seems to be fixed to a sole user role without knowing what he uses or how much he's paying for it. Maybe it's just an impression but from marketing strategies I know that it's one of the best ways to describe a company as a person ( or a user as a sample person, John Doe). I also recognized that a lot of blackberry users are women. Nothing against women but they aren't known as technology leaders or early adoptors. So if a woman tells you that she loves her blackberry somewhere on facebook, a forum, or anywhere else it makes blackberry look like something for the target group seniors/children/women. That does not mean RIM should exclude women from their advertisement. Instead they should focus on what makes woman using blackberrys. Or the other way around: you can't claim technological leadership with a woman. not in marketing or advertising. (I don't like this too. but it's like that and that's just the way it is) Again: it's just an observation.
I have a friend with an 9900. she wanted to trade it against an iphone. I asked her why. she said that all the good apps are somewhere else. the facebook app would show everything in the feed (at FB she turned off all unwanted notifications). ... what I wanted to say: If a user knows what he's doing, he/she does not want a blackberry.)
Like I showed in the picture above the image of the average apple user isn't tied to certain attributes but more to certain behaviours and attitudes. Design is an attitude. And as design is still exclusive Apple is exclusive, even if everybody has an iPhone. An Apple user doesn't need to understand the technology behind his phone. It's all intuive (as long as you believe Apple). It's the best product the user can get (as long as you believe Apple). There's no need to call the tech support because if something goes wrong it must be a fundamental error in our universe and at least it's apples fault because the user owns the best product available (good that apple has a hotline). Clear how convinced Apple users are? Find a BlackBerry user that would give a kidney to this company.
Remember these spots:
That's the image of an apple user. Now lets go over to RIMs Advertising.
RIMs commercials suck. They are completly surreal and constructing situations that are methaphoric and allegoric and make the user think. The least they are is authentic. Not the best way to get the attention of someone who sits at 9pm in front of his TV and wants to rest.
Examples? This is the stuff they torture us with in germany:
(not german but tastelessness in pure essence)
The process behind this is so obvious that I want to vomit!
Creative Director: We need to do this spot for this BlackBerry company. These guys are very conservative, but I already figured out how we can do it without suffering to much. Show some nice people, show how they are communicating, oh and we need a story why they are communicating. Mr. senior art director, what did you last weekend? Kiteboarding, seriously? Great, let's take this for the spot. Oh, damn it, we have a conservative target group... hmm .. lets see... oh I know we are showing a kiteboarding junior lawyer. Cut! VOOOOOOMIT. Compare this to apples siri ads. Or the PC vs Mac ads. Or any other apple ad.
Thorstens Heinz is not doing it very well. There's no need to get a second Steve Jobs but this guy has the temperament of zwieback (in english: rusk?). Compared to him Lazaridis was kind of cool. He was authentic. A businessman, but convinced by the things he did. Heinz, well, he's a german. Like me. We are not marketers, we are not frontmen. We are Ingenieure and develop things.
Strategy (or show your assets):
RIMs 100 million marketing etat is burned money if RIM continues like this. See the point "commercials". Apple advertised with usable-out-of-the-box strategy. This was meant as a punch into microsofts direction but it's still in the heads of a lot of people. The turn with the intuitivity is doing the rest. Usable out of the box applies for any phone today but consumers tied it somehow to Apple. They don't want to think.
What makes the BlackBerry unique and competitive in this area is that you take it out of the box and it is production ready. BlackBerries are delivered with all necessary features to make you happy. You don't have to get a bunch of apps to lift your phone on a level where it is usefull for you. Thats something unique. Even if you dont want to address the business market there's enough room for a convincing strategy: Some of my friends are still running around with Nokias E6 phone because they don't want a touchscreen keyboard. RIM has this feature too but they aren't on the radar of the consumer anymore.
Blackberry is known for communication, business communication, admited, but still communication. Communication is not black, it's not dark, it's colorfull and manifold. If you tell a consumer that he can have a text flat for free by using bbm
what do you think the consumer will do?
The market growth and the loss of market shares is a result of the growing consumer market not of the shrinking business sector. If RIM wants to compete they should get back their market share in the US. As we all know: a company that looses in major markets will loose the whole game.
They do not have several product lines. They are producing their blackberrys and that's it. It's black, and that's it. Take a look at Wacom. They produced business tools, Graphic tablets for professionals. But they are also running a consumer line called bamboo. And then look at their website. It's colorfull and friendly. It's not impossible to combine both.
Like I mentioned above the communication assets, in special the bbm, are great! Show your assets, advertise what you have. Free communication between BBM users is great. Give group/family discounts for the phones. For family marketing: make clear that BlackBerrys are secure and so easy to use that you can give them to your child.
Do your homework in marketing. No more stupid tv commercials. Take a look at the consumer sector and compare the several fields to your capabilities. Family meets security, friends meets bbm, functionality meets your stressfull private life.
adress creatives and artists.
RIM is a tech company and like every tech company RIM is focused on their products. They have a lack of experience in marketing. They have grown out of the clothes of a medium-sized businesses. Their body (business/administration) has grown, their head (technology) has grown but when it comes to marketing they are behaving like a medium-sized company that can make a good living from their products. It's so easy to change this (and I know I'm the only one on the web who knows what's good for RIM ). If RIM gets this done they will be successfull in 2012, 2013, 2014 and so on. If not I would like to recommend you to sell the stock.
... oh, and someone should point out that the devices have a great usabiltity too.
p.s: I've written this post about one week before the announcement of the quarter 4 results. some thing's seem to be seen the same way by RIM that makes me feel hopefull for them