January 30th, 2013 marks the day of the launch of RIM’s BlackBerry 10. With years of developing the BlackBerry 10 (BB10) operating system and smartphones, Research In Motion (RIM) has finally brought them to the market. The new operating system is smoother than iOS and offers flexibility like Android; but the operating system alone is not enough to make the product a success. In order for RIM to capitalize on its innovation, the BlackBerry 10 handsets must sell!
There is no one-size fit smartphone for consumers. That is why BlackBerry must convince the consumer that the new Z10 or Q10 is their best fit. Whether RIM decides to push BB10 through its iconic keyboard, new innovation, brand image, or expensive television ads, RIM needs to entice their consumers.
Distribution: Learn from Apple’s Mistakes
Because product distribution is considered boring, many analysts overlook this sector; however, having a functional and effective distribution strategy is essential to BlackBerry’s success. In order for RIM to make money, they must be able to put their phones in the consumers’ hands.
In the past two weeks, mobile carriers and mobile retailers have been taking pre-orders for the BlackBerry Z10. This helps RIM estimate how many handsets to produce and this allows them to focus shipments according to pre-order numbers.
CEO Thorsten Heins announced at the launch event that Canada and the United Kingdom will receive the new BB10 handsets ahead of the United States. The first batch is set for early February and next batch will hit the States in March.
The delayed release of the new BlackBerry is not making American fans happy. So, why is there such a big delay?
RIM is simply giving people who want BB10 badly first. There is a larger proportion of BlackBerry supporters in Canada and the United Kingdom as opposed to the United States. RIM is a company based in Ontario, Canada, so there are many Canadian supporters who hold RIM as our domestic pride. On the other hand, the BlackBerry 9900 Bold was chosen as the smartphone of the year in 2011 of UK. The BlackBerry has been losing valuable market share in the UK because of the innovative Android and iOS offerings. But, the reason why they have lost so much brand power is because RIM has not released a flagship smartphone since the BlackBerry 9900, which was released back in August 2011.
Also, the time lag between the BB Z10 releases allows the marketing team to spend time adjusting its marketing strategies in the United States based on consumer data in the former regions. This strategy can be effective because the Canadian and British demographics are most comparable to the American demographic. In addition, the American public will have time to browse reviews and reactions from BlackBerry 10 buyers. Assuming that it is more likely that the new smartphones will be well-received in Canada and the UK, the Americans will also be likely to follow suit.
But there is even more to this strategy. The delay has to do with the timing of the promotion.
Promotions: The Super Bowl
RIM is waiting for the Super Bowl 2013 to begin before the launch of the new BlackBerry Z10. This is because RIM plans to airs a commercial in a 30-second spot. By launching the device simultaneously with the highly-popular Super Bowl commercials, RIM wants the BlackBerry to become relevant to a wide demographic. RIM no longer wants the BlackBerry brand to be “just business”. CEO Heins wants BlackBerry to be cool again. With the use of humour, BlackBerry aims to be “in”! BlackBerry 10 is now a device that can both personal and professional with its recent innovation.
Rebranding: From Research In Motion to being just BlackBerry
The BlackBerry brand shows a professional image – it has been as a secure tool that has helped businesspeople perform as if they had their office in the palm of their hands. Research In Motion used to be a very powerful brand in business but it has never been known as a household brand. That is why RIM wants to change its image. Starting Monday, February 4, 2013, Research In Motion will go by the name BlackBerry and the new stock market ticker symbol for will be BB on the Toronto Stock Exchange and BRRY on Nasdaq.
This may be BlackBerry’s last shot at regaining a place to stand in the handset market. Many analysts say that the BlackBerry 10 launch will either make or break the company. As a business student who plans to concentrate in finance and management information systems, RIM’s grim days have come to pass. They will not go bankrupt within this product cycle; despite being at the end of an extended product cycle, RIM was able to post positive profits and maintain good cashflow. I admire the efforts and results produced under the leadership of CEO Heins and the government of Canada. Downsizing RIM to keep it afloat was a huge shock for any leader. With the start of the new product cycle, the cash inflow has yet to really begin.
That is not to say that BlackBerry will not have challenges in reclaiming market share from consumers who are saturated into their homey smartphone ecosystem. But, BB10 will be an OS in the mobile market that is here to stay.