By now we’re all familiar with the fatal BlackBerry outage that occurred last week. Interrupting email and Internet services, the outage left many BlackBerry users unconnected to the digital world around them. This outage, worldwide in effect, reached not only US phones, but also mobile devices in Africa, Canada, Europe, and Asia. How did RIM reply to user’s dissatisfaction? The company issued an apologetic statement focusing on its efforts to repair the damage and only alluding to compensation.
What does this mean for the BlackBerry brand? As you might imagine, blackouts are never positive brand builders for any company, but this outage is especially detrimental to the BlackBerry brand. The BlackBerry is known for its no-nonsense approach to professional mobile phones. The brand connotes reliability and practicality. This blackout, however, negates these brand attributes and drives a nail into BlackBerry’s slowly closing coffin.
In fact, BlackBerry’s numbers have been down for awhile. According to comScore’s statistics, RIM fell 5 points from the three month period ending in May to the three month period ending in August. Microsoft and Symbian also lost ground, but their percentage declines were under 1%. On the other hand, both Apple and Google increased their market share.
Although BlackBerry might be becoming irrelevant to many markets in North America, its strength lies in two segments according to the Huffington Post: corporate IT managers and young professionals in developing countries. As much as 54% of BlackBerry’s revenue now comes from countries outside of North America. A revitalization of the brand might involve focusing on these sectors instead of trying to compete in the highly competitive US smartphone market.
Unless BlackBerry invests in some serious innovation, this might be the end of an era. Do you think BlackBerry can bounce back from its less than mediocre performance? Does your company have an app that is only available to BlackBerry users? You might want to diversify your offerings.