Alicia Keys Can’t Save BlackBerry


alicia Keys

Alicia Keys may be a girl on fire in the music world, but the soulful siren isn’t having much of an impact in her new role as “global creative director” of newly rebranded BlackBerry. The company continues to see market share erosion and sliding valuation despite the strong reviews for its new operating systems and smartphone products.

Formerly known as Research in Motion, BlackBerry lost 3 percent of its market value since the beginning of the week following the defection of Home Depot to Apple Inc., which is replacing legacy BlackBerry devices with iPhones.

The Blackberry 10 operating system, two new smartphones — the Z10 and Q10 — and its enterprise management tools are getting strong reviews from analysts, press and solution providers. However, BlackBerry has chosen a staggered rollout strategy, and the new products won’t reach the U.S. market until the end of March. Some speculate the company is having supply chain and logistical problems.

The new products and corporate identity were thought to be BlackBerry’s best chances to revive its fortunes after years of seeing its mobility dominance utterly defeated by rivals Apple and Samsung Electronics Co. Over the last two years, BlackBerry has changed management, downsized its workforce and refocused products to match and, in some cases, exceed rival offerings.

What some BlackBerry supporters fear is this effort is too much too late. While BlackBerry 10, as an enterprise offering, is said to be better than competitive smartphone offerings, the momentum and share of voice belongs to Apple, Samsung and other Android-powered devices. The popularity and huge head start Apple and Samsung have over BlackBerry may prove too much to overcome.

Home Depot is hardly the first defector. Several U.S. government agents, including the Department of Defense, are experimenting with iPhones to meet user demands for functionality and cost cutting. Apple making inroads into the federal market is an invasion of BlackBerry’s last bastion of dominance.

Where the company may have an advantage is familiarity with IT departments and the ability to give solution providers management tools. BlackBerry products, with their client-server architecture, are easier to provision, secure and support than competitive offerings. If BlackBerry can extend tools and support to solution providers, it may have a chance of staunching the outflow of customers.

BlackBerry has been working with distributors and carriers to bring support tools and applications to the channel. To accelerate its recovery, the company may want to elevate its channel presence, increase enablement and devise blueprints to extend services through solution providers.

Dispatching Alicia Keys to channel events would help, too. (Just a suggestion.)



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8 Responses to “Alicia Keys Can’t Save BlackBerry”

  • craig kensek:

    The only thing slower than BlackBerry’s product enhancements was Alicia Keys’ rendition of the national anthem during the Super Bowl. BlackBerry was slow in enhancing their product line while the competitors worked on making their more secure, thus removing one of the major barriers IT guys had for letting the other mobile devices be part of the corporate standard.

  • Having been a Blackberry supporter since the start and being hooked to having that hardware keyboard touch which kept me loyal a few points to contribute;

    * My blackberry has just failed, finding online a ton of others with the same fault and no fix to it apart from get a new phone
    * 3 others I know with varying Blackberry’s have all had hardware failures in 2013 already
    * all 4 of us are at the point of hearing Blackberry’s disconnect with the consumer to focus on the business user are now likely to make the change and not go back.
    * The last 3 companies I have worked in I have had the choice of phone, Apple, android or blackberry and I see this increasing.

    So is Blackberry game over yet – No – is it in danger of being – well from my own personal history of being loyal to them now waining i think others less loyal will divert away and we may see an acquired or gone Blackberry in the close years ahead.

    Think of others who went from global brand to leaving us quickly – Kodak, Blockbuster and more.

    Ian Moyse

  • I think the posters protest a bit too much.

    Larry (in is comment) mentions how the bit around Alicia Keys is a draw to his article — it’s the same for Blackberry. The appointment of a spokesmodel (or “brand” if you want to call it that, sthompse) doesn’t necessarily change perception, and in both Larry and my case, it’s seen as desperate, not “cool”. You can say wait for the brands to build — I say I don’t need to, because I see it as a desperate move and recognize it as such, and the intention of linking any brands is to have one (Alicia’s) rub off on the other’s (Blackberry). In my case, that failed instantly, and no amount of time will make me think that Alicia Keys made Blackberry cool. I would place a bet now in Vegas that the market will also deem that link a failure in any amount of time you wish to determine to have patience for. Six months? One Year? Two? I’ll take that bet. Would even give you odds.

    The solutions are, as Larry points out, getting good reviews. However, it stands to reason that organizations like the Home Depot had insight into what was coming down the road, and Blackberry lost the account anyway. Most companies would show one of their big, marquis accounts what’s coming under some kind of NDA to keep brand loyalty, and Blackberry STILL lost Home Depot — announced after the big Jan 30 date.

    Has anyone announced plans to “stick with Blackberry” or “move to Blackberry” because of the Jan 30 announcements? I haven’t seen any, but would love to be wrong. This is a commentary piece, and Larry is predicting these moves aren’t going to change the trend. The trend is pretty clear (

    From that article:

    “BlackBerry, which was until last month known as Research in Motion, has clearly felt a great deal of pain with its market share plummeting over the past year from 8,8% to just 3,5%. Just over 7,3m BlackBerry devices were sold in the fourth quarter of 2012 against 13,2m a year earlier.”

    Again, I think Larry is right in that a staggered approach will not help get that market share back faster — which are some of the points being raised. It will be a rather massive effort to come back, and I don’t think these moves are going to do it. When you’re only 3.5% of the market, you’re pretty bad off. You’re about to get passed by Microsoft, who has been the woeful underdog in this race for years.

  • Mike Maselli:

    Couple of issues with this piece. The title is silly since your trying to judge a marketing move less than 2 weeks in. That’s not the way celebrity marketers work pal. The advertising in Canada and UK has been intense, course you haven’t seen it so why not criticize BB? Second, the market share for the new OS can’t possibly be judged to be increasing or decreasing until we have compared it for a full quarter with the other regions globally open. Perhaps Q2 or Q3. One more, judging quick market movements based on Home Depot going to iPhone, never known as a technology leader on back end, is foolish investment guidance. But your not an analyst either are you?

  • Jamie:

    ” The company continues to see market share erosion and sliding valuation despite the strong reviews for its new operating systems and smartphone products.”

    This is bad reporting. Exactly what evidence do you have that blackberry has had market share erosion since the launch on Jan. 30? As far as the companies valuation, the share price is higher than it was on launch day and we have had recent upgrades. This is a garbage article meant to mislead people from the facts. The Z 10 i selling very well in every market it has been released and a large portion of the people buying the all touch screen model are people who had iPhones and Androids. Blackberry is winning back the customers that left over the years to the other platforms. Get your facts right before making them public!

    • Jamie, you are correct. the Z10 is selling well in Canada, but that’s part of the problem. It’s only selling in Canada and the staggered roll out is what’s being criticized. The market reacted when Home Depot pulled the plug and replaced 10,000 Blackberries with iPhones. The question is whether two models will be enough to reverse the course. Ultimately, it’s going to be a matter of market coverage, which is why the question of channel relationships and strategy are being raised.

      And, yes, the bit on Alicia Keys is intentional to draw interest. Fair? Meh, she’s now tied to the success and failure of the brand.

  • sthompse:

    I find the cynicism of your article a bit much. The relationship between the brands has just started. Why not have some patience and see what develops before jumping on the “BlackBerry is done” bandwagon. The devices go on sale next month – why not see what the consumer reaction is before you write an article like this. Unless, you enjoy speculating and misinforming your readers.

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