While the cellular industry has changed immensely over the past ten years with the introduction of the first iPhone in 2007 and the first Android phone in 2008, many Canadians and business-types have stuck with their old BlackBerry devices due to both brand loyalty and an appreciation for the device itself.
After making a brief foray into touch screen devices and tablets – which didn’t exactly do much to help increase the shares of RIM (Waterloo based Research in Motion), the company did an about face and decided to streamline their operations to focus solely on the BlackBerry line. With a rebranding of the company, a change of name from RIM to BlackBerry and the replacement of its traditional stock symbols to BBRY and BB (on the NASDAQ and TSX respectively), BlackBerry is poised to come out swinging against their formidable competition.
“Their numbers are still dropping [post Z10 launch], the real challenge for them is they’ve really been phased out of the collective conscious of the culture that some of their competitors have been developing with consumers,” stated UWindsor Assistant Professor for the Odette School of Business Vincent Georgie.
Georgie explained that Apple has been brilliant with their branding and “with the innovation of the products and the quality of the technology … but also sort of building into that creative class; that’s worked very well for them … that’s something that I’m not sure BlackBerry has done.”
In his eyes, rebranding from RIM to BlackBerry was a good idea. “They’ve put a lot of effort behind this because they really have no choice: they need to rebrand … to really give this one good final go. They needed to jump start that brand in a way that was not happening prior to [the rebranding].”
Georgie doesn’t believe that their efforts were wasted, but does question whether or not it will lead to the long term success of the brand.
“They’re going to have to start repositioning the brand … not so business focused, not so older or a little bit stuffy,” stated Georgie, “they’re going to have to skew it younger and make it a little bit edgier … not just in the products itself, but in the way that they communicate those products to the consumers.”
Jordan Renaud is a self-proclaimed iPhone user who has great respect for BlackBerry as he uses a BlackBerry device for work.
“In my experience, BlackBerry’s are simply reliable … [the] call quality is better, [and] they hang on to a signal better than my iPhone,” stated Renaud, “In terms of working at a University where everyone in general is using BlackBerry’s … it manages emails great, it’s great for contacts … it’s the professional standard.”
On his 4th iPhone, Renaud hopes to continue using both devices, and while he isn’t planning on purchasing a Z10 today, he is however for the next model to be released.
Ashley Mulligan is an employee at Speaking Phones at Devonshire Mall and she explained that while they hadn’t arrived yet, the kiosk she works at would be getting cases for the new BlackBerry Z10.
“BlackBerry’s are still popular,” said Mulligan, “I’ve heard some good things [about the Z10].”
In her eyes, businesses stick with BlackBerry’s because they’re the established business brand, but she doesn’t believe that the new Z10 will appeal much to a younger non-business demographic because “with everything being available [on the market], I think that teens are more interested in cooler up to date software”.
She does however think that companies would be wise in choosing the Z10 as a company phone to provide to employees.
“[BlackBerry] knows what they’re good at and what they’re not good at,” said Renaud, “I’d love for them to compete with [Apple and Android] … they definitely have to do something to survive, even for a year longer.”
Jonathon Liedtke is the Features & Opinion Editor for the University of Windsor Lance Campus/Community Newspaper and a reporter for ourWindsor.ca. As a founding member and current Co-Chair of the Mayor’s Youth Advisory Committee, he is committed to representing, connecting, engaging with and advocating for local youth. He is also a member of Windsor’s “Punk with Horns” band The Nefidovs, and as such, is committed to enhancing and sustaining the arts community.