BB risks poor reception from business users

BlackBerry’s announcement that it is to focus the majority of its marketing efforts on business customers is likely to be met with apathy from the market it is pinning its turnaround hopes on, according to data seen by Marketing Week.

BlackBerry

Owner company Research In Motion’s chief executive Thorsten Heins announced it will refocus its efforts on its enterprise customers after posting a net loss of $125m (£78.5m) in its last fiscal quarter, compared with a profit of $934m (£584m) the previous year.

Although RIM subsequently sought to clarify that it was not backing out of the consumer market altogether, data suggests its key segment of professionals prefer rival brands.

BlackBerry is currently ranked ninth in the UK among ABC1 consumers with a household income of more than £40,000 in terms of brand perception among mobile and tablet companies, according to YouGov’s BrandIndex.

It falls behind Nokia, Samsung, Sony Ericsson and HTC, despite BlackBerry having a larger share of the UK smartphone market.

Russell Feldman, associate director of YouGov’s technology and telecoms division, says BlackBerry needs to “reinvent itself” via marketing communications if it is to convince business users that its devices can become their handsets of choice.

He adds: “BlackBerry just isn’t sexy. You only have to look at senior managers in organisations where if they have [an option] iPhone is the handset of choice and BlackBerry is relegated.”

BlackBerry does not have enough unique selling points to appeal to enterprise customers over its rivals, according to Roberta Cozza, Gartner’s principal analyst in its consumer device division, who says the brand is destined to become a “niche player” in the smartphone market.

She says: “BlackBerry Messenger was a unique proposition but now there are other messaging options. Security was also a BlackBerry strength but now many employees don’t have stringent security requirements, meaning they can use any device and download security software. Focusing on enterprise alone will not be enough.”

Gartner is downgrading its forecast for BlackBerry’s global share of the smartphone market to under 6% by 2015.

A spokesman for Blackberry says it will be investing “time and resources” in a bid to remain at the “forefront of innovation and service provision for the business audience”.

He adds: “We absolutely believe BlackBerry is and will remain the best solution for businesses, both for corporates who are looking to roll out smartphones to their workforce and for individuals who want to use their smartphone to be more productive and effective in the workplace.”

Read why Lara O’Reilly thinks BlackBerry’s turnaround may lose them business

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