Hello berry boys & girls…you feeling good?!!!

As a declared Apple fan and smartphone enthusiast, I would’ve assumed that objectivity was a difficult emotion. Afterall addictions in marketing language, are for brands you love & what tickles your right brain. So I did the old fashioned thing & looked at the dictionary:

ad.dic.tion: noun \a-dik-shen, a-\

1: devotion or surrender (of oneself) to something habitually or obsessively

2: compulsive need for and use of a habit-forming substance (as heroin, nicotine, or alcohol) characterized by tolerance and by well-defined physiological symptoms upon withdrawal

The thing with doing a Blackberry versus Apple is; the former is a craving addiction, medically speaking. And in India some of the coolest dudes are putting substance over style, in their pursuit of the most well-created organizer; by owning the addictive Blackberry. That possibly is the crux of the advertisement introducing Blackberry on Vodafone Prepaid.

Blackberry Boys

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I cannot talk with confidence about the profile of Vodafone’s Prepaid customers & whether they’d relate to the contemporary language of the advertising. Nor can I comment on whether their Postpaid customers would just love this version of the Blackberry and lap it up. But what I can muse on are the staid stories that surround the Blackberry customer. So it’s not quite a surprise why Vodafone did what it did. Good pricing (prepaid plans) with a youthful image, may actually swing it for them.

The ’staidness’ though is where the whole thing begins. Fueled at different conversation points, it almost begs Blackberry to do something about it.  Let me share the gist of some sound bytes from a video I saw on Wall Street Journal online. Quite funny.

Interviewer1: Jennifer, I have a Blackberry. What does that say about me?

Jennifer: I hate to break your heart Simon, but it says that you’re older. That you’re very business-like and a little bit on the serious side….I looked at OKCupid.com, 2 studies from Nielsen, Gartner study, Coupons.com…different data points. We ended up seeing….”like you look like your dog” or “you are what you eat”…”your phone becomes you”.

Interviewer2: Your report collated that iPhone users tend to have more sexual partners.

Jennifer: OkCupid collated how many partners members said they had….they have 9800 members who are smartphone users…OkCupid looked at 30 year olds. And it turns out that 30 year old women iPhone users have 12.3 partners, compared to Blackberry who have 8 partners and Android a mere 6 partners.

What’s 12.3? Nevermind. So Blackberry needed a youth potion alright. An energy booster. A bit of attitude. Some spunk too.

Coming to think of it I believe the Blackberry Boys from Vodafone seemed to actually make the users feel mighty good about themselves. It was sort of an image correction I’d think. It’s like, one knows a Blackberry is useful as hell…but just feel nice about it too.

It’s obvious that this image readjustment is a global need. But what is even more interesting is that in spite of the gaps that may prevail, Blackberry owns large chunks in a few markets. Here is data from the U.S market for July 2010.

And almost in a roundabout way in defense of this, is a an excerpt from CNN online (dated Aug 2010). It opens like this:

It’s the smartphone everyone owns — and no one seems to like.

Peek into any executive conference room in America, and you’re bound to see one — or a dozen — of these anachronistic smartphones: BlackBerrys, their keys clicking like rain on a tin roof. Those red lights flashing, training their owners to pick them up on a second’s notice: An e-mail! A BBM! Answer me!

To owners of Android-based phones and the iPhone, particularly in the U.S., the BlackBerry is starting to look more than a little too old-school.

…..But here’s the kicker: Despite the fact that the BlackBerry isn’t hip, high-tech or cheaper than its main competitors, the phones are still the most popular (or most common) in the U.S market, and they’re growing internationally

So why do so many people still tolerate these phones?

It turns out, according to a handful of interviews with BlackBerry users, there are three basic reasons: People are addicted to the click-clacking keyboard; they love the blinking red light on the top, which alerts users to new messages; and many just happen to have the phone because it’s required for work (just very businessy).

….That includes Michaluk, who said he was given his first BlackBerry phone — he called it “old blue” — from an employer several years ago. He’s been hooked since. “That thing was just a tank; it was ugly; it had that low-res, almost monochrome display. And that thing — I just loved [it],” he said.

Now that is interesting. And seems to be totally resonating with the communication that Blackberry did, to find the connection. People of substance, who love what they do & do what they love. I quite like their international TVC and almost see the Blackberry Boys (done by a service provider though) as a comfortable extension in India.

Blackberry International

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There’s a nice ring to it. It almost dismissed the word ‘like’ and jumped straight to ‘love’. I wonder how many people feel that!!

Frankly, smartphones by their very name are meant to be smart. Well not geeky smart, just smart smart you know. That includes the apps, design, image, integration possibilities….I am curious to know what happens next given that the Android OS is slowly building up. Be it Apple, Blackberry or Android, they all have their strengths. Convergence is easy with the Apple range of products, as it is with Android & Google. With chic new phone colors/look & after the recent glimpse of Playbook by RIM (the professional tablet launch is due in 2011), it seems like Blackberry will finally strike the balance between smart & cool after all.

What do you think?

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5 Comments

  1. Did I ever mention, how much I love your posts! :)

  2. I think Blackberry has skyrocketed because it crossed the barrier from business/geeky to cool. It gave the young executive/first jobber a quick way to say ‘I mean business’ and impress the girls too,all in a day’s work.

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