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Old 06-04-2007, 03:54 PM   #14 (permalink)
Mark Rejhon
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Happy 2nd Anniversary of this post.

In retrospect, this post was really prophetic:
- More consumer friendly BlackBerries
- BlackBerry cameras and memory card slots! Who would've thought.
- More People are now thinking of BlackBerry as yet another cool SmartPhone
- Most media is no longer using outdated BlackBerry email metaphors
- You can now play video, MP3, etc.. You name it!
- There is no more fear of BlackBerry shutdown; more people now think BlackBerry is here to stay.

BlackBerry Now Attractive as Generic Cellphones
BlackBerries are also now a viable option as generic cellphones too; and you can even can now use generic Internet software on a BlackBerry without needing a BlackBerry subscription (i.e. Opera Mini, IM+ works without a BlackBerry plan); this tempts younger consumers to buy anyway, and they may upgrade to a BlackBerry plan later; important in Canada where usable BlackBerry plans start at $60-and-up. This improves BlackBerry reputation; they are being viewed less often as "special business cellphones for those business bigwigs" - and more interesting to the HipTop/Sidekick audience than they were. This grows the market for RIM, by selling more profitable BlackBerry hardware, even if a dwindling percentage of them have a BlackBerry plan attached.

More Work Needed
Lots more work remains to be done, but improvements to an extent have been made to all 7. The mere threat of competition such as iPhone is already driving RIM very hard. Better software catalogs are still needed, for example. Integrate more user-friendly multimedia, such as iTunes or iTunes-like system, make it easier to import video and music without buying expensive software, etc. There are still market sectors that think BlackBerries are boring business tools. Some blogs, denigrate the BlackBerry and pan them. But, overall, the BlackBerry picture among consumers is much more positive than it was 2 years ago!

Potential Business Alienation, Market Confusion
At the same time, RIM needs to balance things out. Businesses may be alienated by difficult BlackBerry keyboard designs that are too small for big fingers of many executives. (Older, big-thumb people miss the good days of the BlackBerry 7290, for example - one of the better BlackBerry keyboards) They may be scared away by the sudden emergence of cameraphones and memory cards (though, thankfully, BES allows you to turn these features off in a secure corporate environment). RIM can reassure these by continuing to support older models, as well as introducing huge numbers of different BlackBerry models. RIM has done an excellent job of keeping both SureType and non-SureType models, even if some market confusion occurs by having so many new BlackBerry models on the market.

Consumer Data Pricing At Carriers
Here, the role model is T-Mobile in the U.S., while Cingular(new AT&T) lowered their pricing since this post was made. With consumer BlackBerry use, a big challenge is data pricing. But more carriers need to follow suit. Lower priced BlackBerry data plans are needed to entice consumers - for example, T-Mobile style pricing needs to come to Canada soon. For example, Rogers Canada now have a $10-for-10meg generic data plan called "Navigate Data Package" which interestingly now works with Opera Mini and IM+ on BlackBerries .... unfortunately, the cheapest BlackBerry EMAIL plan is $25-for-0.5 megabytes (250% as much price, for 1/20th the data!). Carriers need to stop protecting their small golden goose of corporate customers, and introduce consumer-pricing -- Rogers Canada could potentially make more profit at selling 10 times as many BlackBerry plans at half the price, as a potential example. This is needed to prevent BlackBerries from being sold without a data plan, or with only generic data plans (that is only compatible with third party network software, with BlackBerry-branded email/browser being disabled)

Your Opinion
What's your opinion of RIM's progress in the last 2 years?
Good and bad elements?
Stumbling blocks?
What can they do better in the future?
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Mark Rejhon
Author of XMPP extension XEP-0301:
www.xmpp.org/extensions/xep-0301.html - specification
www.realjabber.org - open source

Last edited by Mark Rejhon : 06-04-2007 at 03:55 PM.
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