‘BlackBerry won’t suffer lasting brand damage despite service issues’

BlackBerry is expected to recover from a short term hit to its brand reputation following this month’s network outage, according to a YouGov survey, but owners are still frustrated over the way owner company RIM communicated its issues.

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YouGov found that although the recent service disruption led to thousands of users around the world being unable to access their e-mail, instant messaging service and internet browsers, the majority of BlackBerry owners still think highly of the brand.

Around one in two (49%) of those surveyed said they disagreed with a statement that they would be less likely to buy another BlackBerry handset as a result of the problems. Only a quarter (24%) said the network issues would lead them to reconsider buying another BlackBerry phone.

The majority of respondents (69%) said they thought BlackBerry phones were still “good”, in spite of the recent problems. Just 23% no longer thought BlackBerry phones were reliable following recent events, with more than half of those surveyed (52%) disagreeing with the statement.

One respondent to the survey said: “This is the first problem I have experienced with BlackBerry; otherwise I have always had a good service from them. I do not throw out the good experience for one upset. I shall continue to use them unless there are further problems.”

Despite the majority of owners being fans of the BlackBerry brand, just 6% of respondents RIM has communicated the reasons behind its server issues and its progress in fixing the problems well.

BlackBerry’s brand reputation has slumped in the days following the global service outage, according to YouGov’s Brand Index, which is separate to its survey of BlackBerry owners. It stood at 4.7 yesterday (17 October), down 37.6 points from 42.3 on the 10 October, the day its services crashed.

Last week RIM’s CEO Mike Lazaridis apologised over the service blackout via a YouTube video. The company has sought to compensate affected users by offering them a bundle of premium apps and extended technical support and is using its social media channels and e-mail to communicate service updates.

BlackBerry rival Apple suffered service issues last year with the launch of its iPhone 4 handset, which was reported to have reception problems when held in certain positions due to the location of its external antenna. The device’s successor, the iPhone 4S, which was released this month, sold more than 4 million units in three days, suggesting the brand did not suffer lasting damage.

YouGov calculated its findings from a survey of 1,138 BlackBerry users aged over 18, who were interviewed online between 13 and 16 October 2011.

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