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Three obstacles to restoring the BlackBerry brand

Tony Bradley | Feb. 1, 2013
RIM today hosted a major event in New York to launch the new BlackBerry 10 OS. RIM also announced that the company is rebranding itself as BlackBerry. A fresh new brand with a highly anticipated mobile platform should give the company reason for optimism, but BlackBerry 10 (BB10) isn't just a new iteration of the once-dominant smartphone brand--it's a sink-or-swim proposition that will determine the fate of the company itself.

However, inertia can be overcome. BlackBerry once held the dominant position, and that inertia was on its side. RIM allowed inertia to become stagnation and enabled rival platforms like iOS and Android to claim the advantage.

The jury is still out on how BlackBerry 10 will do in the market, but the initial reception seems a bit tepid, and a CNET poll found that only one in eight will even consider switching to a BB10 device. That doesn't bode well for getting inertia on BlackBerry's side.

3. Consumers

Perhaps the biggest challenge facing BlackBerry is the cultural shift in corporate America. Much of the success of BlackBerry is a result of corporations and government agencies choosing the platform and issuing RIM devices to employees. The entrenched BlackBerry infrastructure in the business world is one of the main reasons the company hasn't already faded completely into oblivion.

Then consumerization happened. The days of IT dictating one-size-fits-all technology choices are gone in most organizations. Many companies now allow users to select the platform they prefer, or have simply adopted BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policies that let users connect their personal smartphones to company email and network resources.

The BlackBerry brand was built using momentum from corporate America to trickle into the hands of consumers. It's never been a major hit as a consumer brand, though. In a world where everything is reversed, and the success of the brand with consumers will drive whether or not it's accepted by companies, BlackBerry faces a daunting task: Convince consumers to choose BB10.

The fact that it is still hanging on and is still part of the smartphone discussion at all is a testament to the strength of the BlackBerry brand. It's possible to restore credibility and rebuild market share, but it won't be easy.

Only time will tell whether or not BlackBerry 10 can live up to expectations and turn things around for the BlackBerry brand.


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