BlackBerry goes sour?
Today BlackBerry manufacturer RIM announced that it is shaking up its top management with its co-chief executives stepping down. It’s the latest change for the struggling handset maker, which has been losing market share to both Apple and Google as well as suffering a major service outage in 2011. To make matters worse from a brand point of view it was also caught up in the Summer 2011 UK riots, with its BlackBerry Messaging service seen as the communication channel of choicefor the looters.
While you can argue poor decisions haven’t helped the decline of BlackBerry is simply testament to a fundamental change in the mobile phone market. Ten years ago it was the specialists that dominated – Nokia, Motorola, RIM, Siemens and SonyEricsson. Most of these came from a telecoms equipment background, which gave them good relations with mobile operators and in many cases appealing to consumers was just an afterthought.
Now the mobile phone market is dominated by consumer brands – Apple, Samsung, Google and LG. Of the majors, HTC is the sole specialist, but it is building itself into a design and feature-led consumer brand, not focusing on hardware alone. Epitomising this trend are Sony’s decision to take full control of SonyEricsson and Google’s purchase of Motorola Mobility.
So what does this mean for marketers and innovators in the mobile space? Essentially that whatever your application, service or hardware does you need to think like a consumer – even if you are actually selling to a B2B audience. One of the reasons businesspeople have switched fruits from BlackBerry for Apple is the usability and consumer features the iPhone provides, rather than the actual quality of service when it comes to calls. Whether you are providing a business app or a new processor you’ve got to market it as something that is cool to use and simple to operate.
But the consumerisation of technology isn’t just going to stop at phones or even PCs. Increasingly the users of even the most heavyweight business applications are going to demand vastly improved user interfaces that are designed to work intuitively and make their jobs simpler and more fun. So tech innovators everywhere need to look at design, usability and ergonomics if they are to turn their advances into viable products that people want to buy – otherwise they risk being sidelined and ignored by both B2B and B2C audiences.
- BlackBerry’s leadership fail: The symbol of software’s triumph over hardware (venturebeat.com)
- Clock strikes zero for RIM’s Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis (business.financialpost.com)
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