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RIM’s BlackBerry: Comeback Kid Or Bench Warmer?

Mobile & Apps

Ever since Research in Motion released its first email pager back in 1999, the company has been the sweetheart of the corporate world.

By the mid 2000s, however, BlackBerry ownership extended far beyond the office park, and addicted users –business execs, soccer moms, teenagers and celebrities alike –started calling their phones “CrackBerries,” which, as you may recall, led Webster’s New World College Dictionary to hail the tongue-in-cheek term the New Word of the Year in 2006.

Yes, as RIM undoubtedly would say, “Those were the days.”

From that high point, RIM has been on a rocky road downhill —thanks in large part to the success of smartphone competitors, including Apple’s smash hit iPhone and the Android platform. Despite the fact that everyone from President Barack Obama to Kim Kardashian has been seen with a Blackberry in-hand, the company simply hasn’t been able to keep pace.

And in our gadget-saturated world, success certainly seems to be a “survival of the fittest” proposition.

Now, RIM is taking radical measures to maintain relevance on the tech landscape. The entire company has been renamed “BlackBerry.” Plus, a few weeks ago, there was the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 line, comprised of a touchscreen and keyboard hybrid called the Q10 and the solely touchscreen Z10.

But, will a new name and a new set of phones create enough buzz to land BlackBerry in more pockets?

That depends. As I see it, the move to truly own the BlackBerry name is a solid branding play. (Did “Research in Motion” or “RIM” scream “phone” to you?) And, according to analysts, the Z10 offers some impressive new features and capabilities, like better photo and video technology.

Is there anything else companies can do—whether they’re struggling or not—to make older products or platforms freshly engaging to their users, or to grab more market share?

  • Evolve with a problem solve. At Aprimo, we get to hear firsthand how some marketing automation solutions cause more hassles than benefits—and that’s why every time we make a change or an addition to one of our products, we try to solve a problem our competitors don’t, while making our own solution better.
    In the case of our recent Marketing Studio launch, we made everything our Integrated Marketing Management platform could do even easier: data entry, report creation, document review, email content creation . . . you name it.
  • Capitalize on a competitor weakness. BlackBerry users are notable for their love of phone keyboards and quick typing—something that iPhones and Androids haven’t put much focus on (to the chagrin of many users). Consequently, it’s no surprise BlackBerry’s CEO Thorsten Heins emphasized the strength of the BlackBerry “typing experience” during the launch event. Heins handily reminded users why they loved their CrackBerries in the first place . . . and could again!
  • Make an already-loved product even more so. If you’ve got a product your customers love, there’s no need to reinvent the wheel; just make the wheel a better wheel. At Aprimo, we added value to our cloud services by expanding the cloud even further, a move that made us better able to accommodate a large volume of customers, and to improve the cloud experience for our existing customers. In another instance, we added a new offering to our already-solid Integrated Marketing Suite with our Real-Time Interaction Manager –and people were excited enough to share the news!

The jury is still out on BlackBerry 10, since the release is barely a couple weeks old. But if BlackBerry continues to focus on improving and differentiating its products in ways that deliver value and actually matter to consumers, there’s reason to believe the company can regain marketshare.

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