BlackBerry 10 will be Windows’ 8

When I suggested that BlackBerry10 would be dead on arrival it created some passionate responses. BlackBerry 10 is GREAT technology, I was told. I never said it wasn’t [I actually don’t know how good or bad it is yet].  I was told my view was sour grapes because I hadn’t been given a sneak preview. I’m not a developer or an analyst – or a mobile industry influencer. I’m a marketeer [so, there is no reason for RIM to give me a sneak preview]. I was told that RIM was marketing to the developer community [this isn’t going to persuade any end-users to choose a BlackBerry10 device over an iPhone or Android handset], and that it was too early to market for a launch, which – at that point – was still only defined as ‘Q1 2013’ [this misunderstands the scale of RIM’s problem].

The reason for taking the position that I did was based solely on what I was seeing [or wasn’t seeing] from RIM in terms of marketing to end-users. People like me. RIM has a much larger problem than BlackBerry 10 – it’s called perception.  People don’t think the company, or its handsets, are cool.  Heck, new Yahoo! CEO Marissa Mayer doesn’t even think they are smartphones

So, when I read this story from Business Insider – about sales of Microsoft’s Windows 8 in its first month and it’s exactly what I was talking about when I talked about BlackBerry 10.  Sales of Windows 8 are awful – down 21% year-on-year. Windows 8 tablet sales are “almost non-existent’ – just 1% of total sales. Why? It’s not the product… the product is, I’m reliably told by people who know, good. It’s very good.

And this despite a comprehensive and expensive multi-channel marketing and PR campaign.  The problem is, the problem is the marketing.

Here’s a couple of examples:

It’s not the execution.  Or the idea per se.  The concept of a single operating system for both laptop and tablet devices is quite clever. Many would argue it makes sense.  But, Microsoft has failed to do do the one thing that would make Windows 8 a success – it failed to give consumers a reason to buy either the operating system, or hardware running it. Or both.  And, as a result, it has failed to create demand.

It’s ‘Everything At Once’ strap line has failed to differentiate between the new desktop, tablet and mobile OS.  Windows 8 is a radical shift for Windows PC users and, as yet, Microsoft has failed to convince them to vote with their hard-earned cash.  It’s unclear from the commercials and PR whether you need to buy a new device in order to use Windows 8 [the ones I’ve seen give you the impression that Windows 8 is all about a new hardware and software package].

There’s nothing to suggest that you can use it on existing machines, or that Windows 8 offers users the ability to revert to traditional desktop view.  Microsoft has not provided customers or prospects with an easy – or cost-effective – migration from 7 to 8 either way.  When you realize it can be used on some existing PCs Microsoft wants you to download an ‘upgrade assistant’ to tell you whether your existing system is suitable for upgrade. A download to find out if you can download something else!

Things may and, based on a brief play on a new Windows 8 machine this weekend, should improve for Microsoft but Microsoft has missed a huge opportunity to make a splash with its new operating system.  I fear it’ll be the same for BlackBerry when 10 arrives at the end of January.

Read my other posts on BlackBerry

11 Replies to “BlackBerry 10 will be Windows’ 8”

    1. Thanks Michael, I appreciate your comment. My concern with RIM is that if it doesn’t matter how good the technology it, if you haven’t created demand then you are in trouble. MSFT is at $26 and, while it has lost almost $1.5 since Windows 8 launched, it has time to address it. RIM doesn’t have that latitude and if 10 sells as badly as it appears Windows 8 has then I fear it’ll be the straw that breaks the horse’s back – having bet its life on 10 the product may be awesome, but I’m not sure the company has created demand for it.

  1. You are forgetting the fact that Windows 8 is not Windows Phone 8, so why are you comparing Windows 8 to BlackBerry10. BlackBerry also has a user base or 80 million and Windows Phone 8 does not. Microsoft also upset their user base by not being able to upgrade their year old device to the new OS. I get the WP8 is completely different from WP7, just like BB10 is completely different then BB7, the thing is BB7 is not only a year old so people do not expect to be able to get the update. For being on a year old people kind of expect to be able to get an update.
    About their marketing why would they start to market it to the general public when they have not even officially announced it. You know that marketing something to early is also not good, because people do not want to wait for something, so if they did market it, it would effect their image in a negative way. The launch date is on Jan. 30 2013

    1. Hi and thanks for your comment – always appreciated.

      I guess the point is that the product is irrelevant. The point is that Microsoft, and in my opinion, RIM, has failed to create demand for their products. In terms of marketing, I think that for RIM it’s never too early to start marketing BB10 – especially at a point when a large number of consumers are making decisions over which phone to buy. Marketing now could have made those undecided think it might be worth holding a couple of months to see what the BB10 handsets are like.

      I also think that it’s as much marketing the company as it is the new handsets/OS. RIM has a serious perception problem [it’s not seen as cool] and this impacts how people perceive its products. Increasingly people buy brands – Apple, Android, Nike, Ford, Mercedes, Gap… if the brand perception is off then it doesn’t matter how good the products are.

      It’s only my opinion though and it’ll be interesting to see what actually happens at the end of January and the 30 and 90 days post launch.

  2. You are right that people wont buy something based on their perception of the product and brand. Marketing was never good under the old duel CEOs, one of the mistakes they made was marketing to early, they would market a device months in advance and people did not like that. People got tired of wait, which effected people perception of the company in a bad way. So why would they market it early when they use to get slammed for doing that. Everyone said they should be more like Apple in their marketing, but now that the are more like Apple you want them to go back to being the old RIM?

    1. I agree that marketing a product too early is not good. But there is a difference between marketing a product and brand marketing to address the company’s perception. RIM has a perception problem – fact. People see the company as out of touch, not having moved with the times, the handsets have not kept up with the latest models…

      The truth is that some of this is based on fact. Some of it is wrong. The latest BlackBerry handsets have NFC where the iPhone doesn’t – RIM hasn’t given consumers a compelling reason why it would add value to them. BlackBerry only recently added touch screens – there’s an argument that says this isn’t a problem for the majority of their customer base. The keyboard is seen as being old-fashioned – it is the reason why the majority of their customers bought a BlackBerry. The problem is – as I’ve said in previous posts – RIM is trying to market a phone used [and designed to benefit] one customer demographic to a mass market [iPhone/Android users]. iPhone users want cool. BlackBerry’s core customer wants functional and workmanlike. This marketing mis-match is what created RIM’s perception problem.

      Apple. I don’t want them to market like Apple -at least not their recent attempts!! I also don’t want them to go back to being the old RIM. I want them to market to their strengths, communicate a value proposition to a target audience that understands and appreciates what a BlackBerry handset does, and to deliver handsets that continue to add value to a defined target audience [business people] that buys BlackBerry because it does what no other handset can offer them.

      Great discussion – thank you. Look forward to hearing your thoughts.

      1. It is true the brand and product are different for marketing, but the average consumer see them as the same. It is also true that RIM didn’t market NFC like they should have, it is only recently that they have been pushing NFC because noow they have things in place to make NFC more attractive. When they brought the phones out with NFC most people did not know what to use it for, and there was not much use for it.

  3. rather interesting and i agree. the fact that ‘we’ are waiting for 10 for so long indicates that they have done something right 😉 in their ‘lack’ of marketing, i haven’t seen any campaign for a RIM product/framework as with the case of 10. i think they can do much better of course and would actually like to see a more diligent campaign for 10 – truth be told i have to fight myself not to go for windows as this waiting is getting to long and the perception of an OS such as W8 & WP8 is growing on me. damn perceptions

  4. Pingback: WTF BlackBerry?!

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