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Why the Blackberry will never be top of my shopping list...

1st Nov 2011

A quick straw poll around the office has revealed that nobody in Livelink uses a Blackberry. We’re all dedicated iphone users, regardless of the price gap, and there is good reason for that. (Although if we didn’t have reason, last month’s debacle would have given us reason enough !).

Apart from the fact that iphones are easier to use, once you’re an Apple user, it’s very difficult to use anything but an iphone - especially if you’re a technical bod and you’re already tuned in to itunes. Apple attracts extreme brand loyalty. The sad news that Steve Jobs had passed away earlier this month heralded a stream of features and comments, both on and off-line, which scrutinised the brand as well as the great man himself. The verdict was pretty much unanimous. Apple has a popularity which runs as a constant – there are no real dips to it - and its customers stay with the brand.

Meanwhile, Research In Motion’s (RIM) customers’ loyalty has been put to the test in recent days as its showcase product, the Blackberry smartphone, hit a wall. Although the full extent of the fall-out is still too early to call, the question is out there:  Can a big brand survive what amounted to a four-day panic ?

Global user panic was an effect largely of RIM’s radio silence in the face of its largest crisis to-date. When the wireless giant did speak it was to say that Blackberry’s service disruption was due to a failure of a core hardware switch related to its Blackberry Internet Servers (BIS). The information that was released came too little and too late. There was no sign of any strong leadership and the company was simply not providing the answers.

In a crisis situation like this, the need for transparency is paramount in order to calm consumer fears. There is a requirement for explanation followed by a need to reassure. Customers that were questioned by the media last week threatened to withdraw their custom in the main and defect to Apple next time their contracts come up for renewal. How many of them follow through on their threats, is yet to be seen. RIM, in the wake of the disappointment and anger, is still not getting it right. To add insult to injury, the compensation packet in the UK, at the time of writing is a selection of free apps.

I almost wish I had a Blackberry now just to get the satisfaction of finishing my contract !