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Old 10-19-2009, 07:10 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Does Basic Consumer Use Harm The BlackBerry Image?

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Let me start off by defining what I mean by "basic consumer use": those users that buy a BlackBerry device and want to use it without a data plan.

I have had many, many different cell phones over the course of many, many years, but most of my phones have been BlackBerry devices. I had a fairly long run with the Motorola RAZR, and had a little over a year with two versions of the iPhone. My most recent devices were a BlackBerry Pearl 8100, then a BlackBerry Curve 8300, and now a BlackBerry Bold 9000. I will be picking up the BlackBerry Bold 9700 when it drops on AT&T.

Each and every BlackBerry device that I have owned (all the way back to the RIM 950) have had a proper BlackBerry data plan. Up until the Bold, I was using BIS service, but I now use BES to maintain an Exchange connection with my business.

But I knew going in that the BlackBerry devices required a proper data plan to work as designed, and while the price is a bit steep (relatively speaking when compared to traditional cell phones), it is worth it for the optimum user experience and proper functionality. And that leads to the point of this thread: why do people buy BlackBerry devices and then refuse to get a proper data plan, and is this crippling of the device leading to complaints of poor functionality that present an unwarranted negative image of the device?

There are fairly frequent postings here about "how do I use this phone without a data plan" or "why won't my e-mail work without a data plan" or other similarly titled threads. I have a hard time understanding why. Why buy this device without a data plan? Why not buy a standard phone with a keyboard so you can type your text messages with ease? The BlackBerry is not a texting device just because it has a keyboard, and there are plenty of basic phones that are designed just for that purpose.

Do people buy these devices because they think they are cool? Hip? Or are they simply cheap techno-geeks that want the best but can't really afford it? Do the complaints that roll in regarding missing functions because there is no data plan hurt the BlackBerry image? Has RIM pushed too hard for these devices to be in the general consumer market, and has that led to a backlash of confusion and misunderstanding about what a BlackBerry device really is?

I don't know, and that is why I ask for opinions from everyone here. I look forward to the responses.

Thanks.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:23 AM   #2 (permalink)
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There are a few points to make here.
1. Due to the way carriers offer plans, you can pretty much pick up any new and exciting phone for free, or 1 tenth of the retail price. This means people are going for what looks good regardless of price, instead of what they can afford for what they need.

2. Most people research online. You go to the carrier of your choices' website, and look at blackberries. I know from looking at 4 sites (O2, T-mobile, Orange and Vodafone) that T-mobile add the correct data plan onto the purchase, O2's you have to chose the data plan for a blackberry but doesnt say "you need it to make your device work", Orange and vodafone seem to hide the blackberry data plan information under a network of submenus.
People just arent being informed correctly about data plans.

3. I dont think RIM's advertising has helped, especailly not the U2 advert, which ran in the UK, despite the fact the TOUR (U2 = Tour) isn't released here.
Its saying "buy our devices, we're hip, cool and you'll love us" and not saying "but please read the find print".

4. I don't believe its hurting blackberry's image, because those that do realise and want a data plan to get full features, will just laugh/roll their eyes at all the "you need a data plan! OMG! thats crap!" stuff, and continue to invest time after time in a device that works well, for what they need it for.
A "core audience" if you will.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:36 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifonline View Post
But I knew going in that the BlackBerry devices required a proper data plan to work as designed, and while the price is a bit steep (relatively speaking when compared to traditional cell phones), it is worth it for the optimum user experience and proper functionality. And that leads to the point of this thread: why do people buy BlackBerry devices and then refuse to get a proper data plan, and is this crippling of the device leading to complaints of poor functionality that present an unwarranted negative image of the device?
Not that I've noticed over the years. Besides, people that buy a device solely based on "image" get what they deserve in the end.

I think a fair question to ask you is why aren't you on BES? You do realize that "while the price is a bit steep, it is worth it for the optimum user experience"?

Quote:
Originally Posted by ifonline View Post
Do people buy these devices because they think they are cool? Hip? Or are they simply cheap techno-geeks that want the best but can't really afford it?
There are as many reasons out there as there are people. I don't see why it really matters. If it suits their needs then why worry about it? While there are threads from clueless people keep in mind that posts on discussion forums aren't accurate indicators of the real world. If the people you mention didn't have a BB they'd be asking how to get data services without paying for them on whatever other device they might have ended up with.

I know of plenty of BB owners without data plans that are perfectly happy with their BB's because they aren't expecting any data services. These "Why get BB's without BB data plans?" threads show up all the time and really don't spark much in the way of useful discussion IMO. If you don't get it, you don't get it. Doesn't matter whether the subject is not getting a BB data plan or anything else.

I could ask everyone on BIS why they aren't on BES but it's a similarly pointless question. The BB suits the varying needs of different people. More choices are always better than fewer IMO.

Last edited by takeshi : 10-19-2009 at 09:48 AM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:48 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Midnightdraven View Post
1. Due to the way carriers offer plans...
True.

Quote:
2. Most people research online...
Yeah, I suppose this has something to do with it. And I suppose to some extent I was lucky many years ago when I first got into BlackBerry devices (other than the 950) because I can remember the sales agent telling me that I needed a BlackBerry data plan for the phone to work properly. It seems to me that the phone shouldn't be sold without the required plan.

Funny though that when a friend went to get a BlackBerry just recently and told the AT&T rep she was dealing with that she didn't want a data plan, the rep told her not to get a BlackBerry because it would be like getting a Ferrari but only using it to drive back and forth to the grocery store. In other words, too much phone with no way to use it to its fullest. She ended up with a slider phone and seems happy with it because it does what she wants.

Quote:
3. I dont think RIM's advertising has helped...
This is more of what I am referring to. RIM is going out of their way to push BlackBerries into the general consumer market, but they aren't, in my opinion, considering that these devices aren't simple phones made for text messaging. They are much more powerful than that, and require the underlying carrier support to function properly.

Quote:
4. I don't believe its hurting blackberry's image...
I disagree with this in that I believe most people that use these devices, whether business or consumer oriented, are not tech-savvy. And I think that's where the issue comes in because they don't know any better. They get into the device and then discover that it isn't what they thought. That, in turn, hurts RIM's word-of-mouth reputation, right?
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Old 10-19-2009, 09:53 AM   #5 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by takeshi View Post
Besides, people that buy a device solely based on "image" get what they deserve in the end.
Very true.

Quote:
I think a fair question to ask you is why aren't you on BES? You do realize that "while the price is a bit steep, it is worth it for the optimum user experience"?
Um, are you talking specifically to me? Because if you are, you might need to re-read what I wrote. I am on BES.

Quote:
I don't see why it really matters. If it suits their needs then why worry about it? While there are threads from clueless people keep in mind that posts on discussion forums aren't accurate indicators of the real world.
I am fully aware that discussion forums aren't representative of the community as a whole. Additionally, I'm not "worried" about it as you suggest. This is a discussion forum, so I am starting a topic for discussion. Nothing more.

Quote:
These "Why get BB's without BB data plans?" threads show up all the time and really don't spark much in the way of useful discussion IMO. If you don't get it, you don't get it. Doesn't matter whether the subject is not getting a BB data plan or anything else.
Then feel free to not be a part of this non-useful discussion.
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Last edited by ifonline : 10-19-2009 at 09:54 AM.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:02 AM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ifonline View Post
That, in turn, hurts RIM's word-of-mouth reputation, right?
Ahh, now, to me at least, Reputation and Image are 2 different things.

The image of blackberries isnt being harmed. They are great devices for loads of things, as long as you get what it needs to go with it (data plan). They are offering a different type of touch screen device to compare with iphone/N97/palm i believe; they are offering full qwerty devices to rival Nokias qwerty's, as well as others.
The image is a great looking, useful device, that is also smart, cool and interesting.

The reputation of blackberries, is being harmed because it is not being made clear that blackberries are not like other phones, they need a special data plan to work as intended.
RIM need to advertise better, get the carriers to make it clear when purchasing that you need a blackberry data.
Hell, make it mandatory in the UK as well, after AT&T and T-mobile requiring data plans.
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Old 10-19-2009, 10:07 AM   #7 (permalink)
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Fair enough. I am considering image = reputation, but I understand your point of view.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:21 AM   #8 (permalink)
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BlackBerrys have a reputation for rock-solid reliability and unrivaled email handling capabilities.

The image has definitely been tarnished. Any time Lindsay Lohan is sporting something it can't be good.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:24 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Quote:
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The image has definitely been tarnished. Any time Lindsay Lohan is sporting something it can't be good.
Don't forget about Paris. She certainly hasn't done anything to help either.
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Old 10-19-2009, 11:30 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Ah, Paris Hilton. I'm not really sure she's anything more than a cartoon character. Shame if she is, really. From SideKick to BlackBerry - doesn't speak well for BlackBerry. Although maybe her upgrade was due to a savvy cartoon illustrator just penciling it in.
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Old 10-19-2009, 12:24 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Hasn't she since moved on from BlackBerry? I thought she had. Eh... I don't remember, but it's just as well if she has.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:22 PM   #12 (permalink)
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I thought you needed a special plan to do texting on any cell phone.

That's how it is with AT&T - data and texting are treated separately.

My wife and I removed "unlimited texting" from our phones (I have a Pearl, and she traded her Pearl for an iPhone), and left only data. We always found it easier just to e-mail, anyway, which uses data. It saved us some money on our bill doing that.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:29 PM   #13 (permalink)
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I find the US of At&t and t-mobile, probably rogers, and others very strange.
In the UK, a plan consists of texts and calls. Then you can add data, international stuff etc.
WE don't have to pick a calling plan, AND a text plan. Its all inclusive.

But then I didnt know and found soooo strange when I found out that you get charged for RECEIVING a text message.
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Old 10-19-2009, 01:40 PM   #14 (permalink)
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There are some bundled packages available from AT&T, but generally service from AT&T consists of:
  • Voice - Starting at about $40
  • Texting/Multimedia - Starting at about $5
  • Data - Starting at about $30
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Old 10-19-2009, 02:46 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Please remember than there might be all kinds of reasons why some people get a BlackBerry without a data plan. Not all of those folks are 16 year olds that got tired of their iPhones and look for the next cool thing to flash at the party.

The primary reason I got a BlackBerry is that I need a phone that works in northern Canada, like Whitehorse, Yellowknife, Iqaluit, Dryden Ont, Marathon Ont, Wawa Ont, etc. These places are strictly CDMA. Rogers, the only GSM carrier in Canada, has no interest to invest in areas with low population density and I don't expect GSM to be available up there until Bell and Telus switch to GSM. Never mind Yellowknife, Rogers has a spotty or no reception even in a popular weekend getaway like Algonquin Park in Ontario, just 300 km north of Toronto.

At the same time, I also need a phone that works in Europe, Dubai and Australia, all GSM-only areas. The only choice in that situation is a phone that supports both CDMA and GSM standards. There are only a few such phones available:

- BB 8830 WE
- BB Storm 9530
- BB Tour 9630
- one Samsung product

I took a BlackBerry over Samsung because it has well established and demanding clientele, so high quality standards are guaranteed.

Another reason to chose a BlackBerry was solid backup software that is backward compatible with older models. Backing up the address book on a normal CDMA phone was a always a nightmare.

So I got a BlackBerry from Bell Mobility, declined a data plan and paid $650 for the device. I'm not sure if that's what your average teenager does. I don't need the data plan because I'm never too far away from a computer, either notebook or desktop. Considering the standard three year contract that you need to sign in Canada, $25/month extra for BIS (plus taxes and data usage beyond the plan limits) would cost me around $1000 after three years. The device itself would be cheaper with the data plan, but I will still be ahead about $600.

If I ever decide to get a data plan, I'll do it just to have some fun playing around with a mickey mouse browser and to send emails from Tim Hortons, just for the heck of it.
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Old 10-19-2009, 03:40 PM   #16 (permalink)
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That's an interesting perspective that I hadn't considered. With such a severe lack of options available to you, it does seem an obvious choice!
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Old 10-19-2009, 04:52 PM   #17 (permalink)
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I've thought for a long time that RIM needs a separate brand for consumer targeted models. Newberry by RIM, or whatever they can come up with. Then Blackberries could all still be secure, but the less secure consumer brand could be elected as not supported by companies.

For the consumer models, they should drop a lot of the more restrictive things like not downloading the pictures in emails. And they should let data flow direct instead of going through RIM so people could use a regular data plan and with any GSM provider on earth unless they wanted RIM email. And wifi access would be zippier.

By doing with a different brand it wouldn't be as confusing as having different models of Blackberrys. But it would take away many of the annoyances that consumers deal with, but are due to security concerns that really apply to businesses.

Many companies do this. Dewalt is actually a division of Black & Decker. Toyota has Lexus. Marriott Hotels has brands from the upscale Renaissance to the more functional Courtyard, Springhill Suites, and Residence Inn. All those are targeted at slightly different needs and price points.
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:01 PM   #18 (permalink)
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lol @ Rambo

I think BBs have become more mainstream thus more people want them, but fail to understand the phone's true use and potential. Then there is the cost issue. Some carriers have seperate charges for "addons" like messaging and internet. I'm sure there is animosity when people are told BIS is an additional charge.

People buy things because of the cool factor (I'm guilty of it too), but those who walk away happy with the BB are probably using it to its potential. I agree that some complaints are coming from people who don't understand how to use it or what it was designed for. If they think the BB sucks then they should have bought a sidekick I say! I think a parallel can be drawn to computers. I've noticed that the people who complain the most just don't understand what they are doing, and their expectations of what the computer can do is beyond its capabilities, and sometimes beyond reason. For example, a friend of mine bought a MOTO Q and returned it quickly. His complaint was it was too complicated. I think that sums it up for many buyers. He has a BB now but I had to help him with setup. He says that without me helping him he would not have kept the phone and is very happy with it.


monkeypaw brings up a good point about consumer and professional brands; a new market could be out there. The iphone proved that... look at all those suckers... lol
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Old 10-19-2009, 07:07 PM   #19 (permalink)
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The concept that monkeypaw brought up is an interesting one, and I have to wonder if RIM has considered something like this. My guess is they have, but don't believe that it would be a viable option, for whatever reason. I don't know, but it seems to me that it might be worth doing. As was noted, there are several product manufacturers that provide alternate lines based on target market, so why not RIM?
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Old 10-20-2009, 02:08 AM   #20 (permalink)
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the main reason most people have purchased a blackberry here is because of one thing that it is famous for (no no, not email!) for, BlackBerry Messenger. Most people have switched over to a bb is because they find the concept of BBM 'hip' and 'cool'. if you're not on it, then you're just a 'loser'. sad but true. now for bbm to work, you can either go for a basic GPRS plan (which means, you can use bbm, possibly get your emails if you even have that set up.. shock horror, some people don't.) or a full blown data plan.

having said that, a lot of people only want the blackberry because it's considered 'elite' and if you don't have it, you're just not with it. most people do not have a clue as to what a blackberry is essentially used for. i do have friends who use a blackberry for simply texting and phone calls, and don't see the need for a data plan.

Vodafone IN has a comprehensive list of what a blackberry does, and why you should invest in on if you absolutely need it. Their data plans are well laid out, so people do have some idea.

However, the bottom line is, functionality and the USE of a blackberry is completely lost in our market. no one realises that it is a 'WORK' phone and NOT a 'media' phone.. and the advertisments that the carriers put out, make the BB seem like a 'fun' phone, NOT a 'Work' phone. poor advertising.
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