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| | Mark Rejhon's Top 7 Most Important BlackBerry Requests for RIM's Growth Success
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Mark Rejhon's Top 7 Most Important BlackBerry Requests for RIM's Growth Success Written June 2005 Blockbuster Growth:
| Note: This is an old post. |
This article was written June 2005
Research In Motion is in a bull run. The first million BlackBerry subscribers took many years for RIM to achieve, the second million took under 10 months, and the third million took under 6 months. The price of RIM stock is enjoying the rare dotcom-style hypervaluation levels. BlackBerries are increasingly commonly found in airports, government buildings, and throughout the business districts of downtown area. RIM recently cleared a few skeletons from the closet, including settling with NTP, Inc. at approximately a half-million dollars. This removed a threat of a network shutdown in the United States. There are still many countries in the world that BlackBerry will still sell like hotcakes. The Storm Clouds:
RIM cannot stay complacent. PalmOne has the TREO which is starting to sell like hotcakes. The 800 pound rich gorilla, Microsoft is ready to dip into its war chhest and add better "push email" capabilities to Exchange and ActiveSync. Competitors such as Good Technology is making inroads. BlackBerries are now finally reaching market saturation in certain industries. Some people are also far more interested in getting a TREO than a BlackBerry. Countermeasures:
RIM is already successfully executing certain measures, such as expanding to new carriers in new countries. RIM is going "beyond email", and last year RIM changed the corporate logo to remove the outdated email logo. RIM is branching into new markets by expanding the BlackBerry feature set. However, RIM cannot stay too complacent and there are hidden mousetraps and obstacles. Here are some measures that RIM can take to ensure that the 10 millionth subscriber is successfully reached.
- Improved Marketing
RIM is already doing an excellent job marketing to certain sectors and industries. RIM had an excellent prescence at a recent trade show, Wireless Enterprise Synopsium (WES). Everybody seem to like BlackBerry and talk about BlackBerry. However, look carefully. Detractors are everywhere. That company next door may hate BlackBerry. And the General Public thinks BlackBerries are still monochrome email devices. Boring devices that can only do email. Yawn! Yet another company doesn't even know that BlackBerry now finally has several different brands of wireless administration software, and decide to go for a PocketPC deployment instead. Guess what? RIM marketing is not as good as many people may think. Here are example:
- KPMG employees decided on TREO instead of BlackBerry when given choice - forbes.com Article
- Lack of knowledge of BlackBerry capabilites, such as those found in Mark's BlackBerry FAQ
- Outdated black-and-white stock photographs of BlackBerries in articles
- Many phone stores are pushing TREO 650's more than they are pushing BlackBerry. Not even given consumers an equal choice.
- Improved Word-Of-Mouth
This is very closely related to the above marketing bullet, but this is a distinct item because this is really peer-to-peer marketing rather than direct-from-corporation marketing. That computer geek using a competing handheld often does not even know that BlackBerry recently finally already does most of the things that their handheld can do. For example, BlackBerry as a modem for laptop, or using collaboration software or CRM software which is now possible on BlackBerry. There are many myths. No software available for BlackBerry. Poor quality screens. No TCP/IP stack. No chat capabilities. No CRM/remote admin/word processing capabilities. All of these are now myths. More information can be found in "BlackBerry Myths Busted: The Modern 2005-era BlackBerry". It is extremely important that RIM makes sure that these capabilities are known, because it is often the computer geeks that sometimes influence a company to buy BlackBerries. Even the mere prescence of a non-critical feature (ringtone, chat, etc) can make one individual happy enough to recommend the BlackBerry to 100 other people even if they're not interested in frivolous features. RIM has to toe a very fine line between keeping BlackBerry stable and adding unnecessary features, and RIM has made some important progress recently, but unfortunately not enough progress is being made because many non-BlackBerry-users still think BlackBerries are boring monochrome email-only devices. This is a huge barrier for RIM to overcome. Word of mouth must be improved among non-BlackBerry users, in order for RIM to successfully continue to grow beyond 10 million subscribers. At the same time, RIM cannot alienate their existing user base with features that potentially hurt the security of BlackBerries.
- Become More Consumer-Friendly
During 2004 and early 2005, RIM finally made some important steps to become more consumer friendly. Current BlackBerries are now capable of chatting and videogames that sometimes have graphics as good as any other cellphone videogames. Photo viewing are now a standard feature of a modern 2005-era BlackBerry, and you can finally do ringtones, screensavers. Corporations believe that these are unnecessary features, but about 50% of the BlackBerry market are individual consumers (prosumers). The BlackBerryForums.com website contain many excellent example of the existence of individual users. However, BlackBerry has a lot of rather severe limitations that still scare away many individual consumers. One example is the lack of MP3 playback, lack of built-in cameras, lack of voice recorder, and lack of memory card slot. RIM even said that there will never be a BlackBerry with a camera. Unfortunately, RIM is caught between a rock and a hard place because governments and organizations really hate these features, as many of these features interfere with the security of BlackBerry. Camera phones are banned from many organizations. Voice recorders are banned because of the "spy" risk. Memory cards are banned for the potential espionage leaks caused by stealing information off a BlackBerry or inserting an unauthorized memory card into a BlackBerry. MP3 playback is frowned on as a distraction, and the lack of memory and performance in a BlackBerry is an added limitation. RIM can mitigate these problems by permitting limited music playback-only, and video playback-only capabilities. These capabilities are rumored in future BlackBerries, since they do not represent much of a security issue, and these features can be disabled by a system administrator for business users, while keeping consumers and prosumers happy. RIM should expend every ounce of effort to make sure that non-security-sensitive features are indeed made possible in future models of BlackBerries. RIM can provide countermeasures to keep businesses happy by providing an option for system administrators to disable an undesired BlackBerry feature. It is better to offer a frivolous marketing feature (i.e. MP3) as a bullet point and advertise the system administrator ability to force-disable the feature, than to leave the feature out completely. RIM can afford to gradually add new features to BlackBerry, as long as it does not compromise security and stability, and this should be encouraged in conjunction with all other bullet points.
- Create a Consumer Division
Unfortunately, enabling features such as a TCP/IP stack and modem tethering for laptops, is a big minefield for RIM. RIM can't even think of adding cameras to BlackBerries. RIM can't add a memory card slot. RIM has their hands tied trying to keep governments/businesses happy and consumers happy. To grow beyond 10 million BlackBerry subscribers, RIM must spin off a consumer division. If RIM wants to become "The Next Nokia", RIM must have a separate consumer division would have cameras, memory cards, MP3, video, and everything else. A new brand name can be invented, such as "BerryMedia" or another name. This could even be a new company name that licenses the BlackBerry operating system and BlackBerry technology, such as PalmOne versus PalmSource. That way, governments can say "BlackBerries devices are allowed, but no BerryMedia phones.". This spin-off may not be necessary yet, but this will eventually become necessary once worldwide market saturation is achieved, and it finally becomes necessary to add cameras and memory card slots to a BlackBerry. This is only possible under a separate entity (whether it be company, subsidary, brand name, division, etc) so that the main BlackBerry models can remain 100% secure and fully protected, without tarnishing the BlackBerry name. BlackBerry devices are among the most well-designed in terms of ruggedization that doesn't look like military surplus (see BlackBerry survives 9 foot drop to concrete & other amazing facts), and experienced users say BlackBerry devices arguably have the best thumb keyboards - especially on model 7250, 7520 and 7290. If RIM device engineers can apply their knowledge to consumer-phones, and still make them sexy looking, they can gain an excellent reputation quickly and possibly even become the Next Nokia. Yes, RIM licenses BlackBerry Connect, but this is not effective because it does not as authentically reproduce the addictive BlackBerry experience. In fact, other third party mail software was found to actually be much more pleasant to use than BlackBerry Connect solutions, in many tester's experiences -- myself included. In order to reproduce the true "Crackberry" experience in a phone with a camera and memory card slot, RIM must eventually manufacture these devices themselves through this separate division. It is necessary to grow beyond the "security cage" to go beyond market saturation, while simultaneously keeping the governments and businesses happy. There are creative solutions that makes this possible.
- Quicker Hardware Innovation
Many people "in the know" have heard about and posted about numerous rumors. Unfortunately, these vaporware rumors are still vaporware. Where is the EDGE BlackBerry? What about modem-for-laptop capabilities for Verizon 7250? What about video playback capabilities? What about Bluetooth keyboards, Bluetooth GPS, and Bluetooth tethering? What about music playback capabilities? All these are rumors that persist, but never come to fruitition. This is partially understandable, because RIM is fully concentrating on businesses, and prioritizing on marketing important features such as wireless adminsitration and wireless CRM. However, in order to avoid market saturation, you need to keep those IT geeks happy. What about that Electronics Arts employee that uses a Treo 650, or the celebrity that uses a Hiptop, or the PocketPC-using outfit across town? All of these are great devices in specific ways for the specific areas that BlackBerry cannot do well. BlackBerry is catching up in many areas. Excellent progress have been made with the recent Bluetooth-based models. However, RIM needs to make sure that new BlackBerry hardware is released quickly to keep advanced users happy. This means faster performance, better screens, higher resolutions, more memory, more choices in design, higher speed wireless data, more preinstalled software for consumer-marketed BlackBerries, and yes, better marketing. Even now, the best GSM model, BlackBerry model 7290 is starting to become deep-discounted at $99 or less at many phone stores, while the TREO 650 is still priced at well over $300-$400. This higher price falsely makes consumers think that the TREO 650 is vastly better in 100% of all possible ways than the BlackBerry, just because they see the higher price. It's better to make sure phone stores display both a cheap BlackBerry ($99) and an expensive BlackBerry ($499), so high-end models must be introduced to market more quickly than RIM currently has. Otherwise, consumers sometimes make the false impression that RIM are cheap devices that only do email, since the phone store doesn't always market the fact that BlackBerries have already grown beyond email. This factor also influences marketing and word-of-mouth, as a misinformed consumer is less likely to cause his small business to decide to deploy 25 or 50 BlackBerries next quarter. Multiply that by many small businesses, combine the other factors listed in the above bullets previously listed, and this becomes a significant portion of a potential BlackBerry market.
- More Organized Software Catalogs
BlackBerry went through a thermonuclear explosion of software during year 2004 and early 2005. This explosion is continuing. There is finally now over 2,000 different software programs that are compatible with BlackBerry, when you include the fact that Java midlets originally made for other cellphones (i.e. Nokia, Motorola) also work on BlackBerries. Over 1,000 native applications now finally exist for BlackBerry. At the beginning of 2004, there were only 2 chat software applications. Now there are over 30 chat applications as of June 2005 (See a small subset listed here) There are even dictionaries, word processors, multiple brands of spreadsheets, several text editors, many remote administration software programs, CRM software, eBook readers, photo slideshow viewers, and dozens of new software categories that never existed for BlackBerry until last year. Handango reported a massive increase in BlackBerry software purchases in the last two quarters, with a combined 20-fold growth in two consecutive quarters! (1300%+ followed by 60%+ increase in two consecutive quarters). Unfortunately, Handango lists less than one-quarter of the available BlackBerry software, and new BlackBerry software programs are coming out at a rate faster than the software catalogs can list them. Even websites such as RIMROAD.com are woefully incomplete and outdated, even listing old BlackBerry software that are extremely old. A case in point is that the most popular BlackBerry software program at RIMROAD, is RIM Mario. Guess what? This is a videogame that doesn't work on modern BlackBerries anymore - this videogame was designed for old Mobitex models. As a result, software catalogs such as RIMROAD are becoming increasingly inaccurate representations of today's BlackBerry software explosion. Outdated software is still mixed with newer software. Even Handango is still scrambling. Other online software catalogs are excessively underutilized. RIM must act quickly to solve this problem by helping the most popular software catalogs modernize properly. This may include donating staff or sponsorship/funds to help accelerate the modernization of volunteer-driven software catalogs that are still popular mainstays of hunting down RIM software. Otherwise, the Joe Q Public can't find that brand of a dictionary. Even today, business coworkers are still saying "there are no scientific or financial calculators for BlackBerry" -- but there are over 5 brands that now exist! What about that person who inquires about a medical program for hospitals in a specific modern "doctor-blackberry-pagers-allowed" hospital? What about that financial analyst who's trying to look for a realtime quote program for BlackBerry? People don't even know about software such as PocketDay, when they're looking for an amazing PIM that's similiar to AgendaToday or DateBk3 for Palm platforms. Everyone is having problems finding all the wonderful BlackBerry software that finally already exist and all the best BlackBerry software catalogs are still woefully incomplete, caught completely off guard by major software explosion. BlackBerry now has many software programs available, and in certain categories, far exceeds the number of programs available for certain other platforms such as Symbian. (for certain categories of software).
- Keep Improving Communications With Consumers and Carriers
RIM often does new device testing within corporations and businesses, and probably does blind testing too as well. Credit must be given here. RIM is doing an excellent job expanding the BlackBerry market to include additional carriers. RIM is obviously starting to listen a little more, as evidenced by the innovations during Year 2004 and beyond. BlackBerryOS version 4.0 added many features that were critical to corporations. However, RIM also needs to get into better touch with the power user community and with carriers. A lot of important features got added. However, there are still many problems. Many carriers are not very well-informed regarding BlackBerry capabilities, such as the ability to function with networking software (see Configuring Internet on BlackBerry). As a result, many carriers do not support features on BlackBerry while they continue to push the equivalent features on TREO's. This disparity must be solved, because this carrier misinformation can make consumers think that BlackBerry cannot do things that the TREO can -- such as the ability to be used as a modem for laptop. Or the ability to function with chat software. There is a lot of inertia in a big carrier company, and RIM cannot become complacent: They must keep pushing the carriers nonstop, to make sure there is enough continuing momentum to market the BlackBerry properly. RIM must also involve more testers inside and outside of carriers. For example, a few testers from BlackBerryForums and other sources should be included in the regular pool of testers within corporations and carriers. This provides a backup source of feedback for subtle aspects of BlackBerries that are much more important than RIM may have first considered.
RIM is already doing a superb job expanding the BlackBerry market. But this won't last forever. It is wholly possible that RIM has already considered all of the above, or may only be half-heartedly considering these options. While RIM's business strategy may or may not include the options listed above, it is very clear that RIM cannot remain complacent in the face of competition. RIM must resort to creative measures to continue effectively expanding beyond 5 and 10 million subscribers.
The moral of the story is that the consumer market and the business market is much more closely intertwined than many people think. For example, the "word-of-mouth" factor listed in this document. It is my opinion that RIM should not have tunnel vision and focus only on business.
For more information about BlackBerry capabilities, see Mark Rejhon's BlacKBerry FAQ
| Note: This is an old post. |
This article was written June 2005
| This is a "Mark Rejhon BlackBerry FAQ" article. |
Copyright (C) 2005 by Mark Rejhon, All Rights Reserved. Some portions may be Copyright (C) by respective forum members.
Mark Rejhon grants permission to use this article only for private use. For all other uses, please ask Mark Rejhon at Mark Rejhon - aka Marky - Home Page of Mark D. Rejhon to ask for permission to use this article. If any content of this article also contains content by other forum members, please ask them for permission too as well. This includes commercial use, public use, reposting in full/part anywhere on the Internet, publication in magazine/book or any other media, or any other use than private use. This copyright notice may not be edited or removed in any manner. Mark Rejhon reserves exclusive right to edit, remove, or restore this article, and this article may not be edited, removed, or restored by any other individual or organizations.
| Mark Rejhon was an employee of Idokorro Mobile Inc at Idokorro - Remote Network Administration and he is a volunteer moderator at this BlackBerryForums website. |
Disclaimer: Mark Rejhon owns a small number of shares of RIM.
Last edited by Mark Rejhon : 06-04-2007 at 02:33 PM.