Print 56 comment(s) - last by Pirks.. on Feb 1 at 9:25 PM

Smartphone maker launches curious cartoon campaign amid plunging sales

Research in Motion, Ltd.'s (TSE:RIM) plunged to a 4.5 percent share in the U.S. market during holiday 2012.  

The company is clinging to profit margins thanks to strong sales in emerging markets like China (who is the new largest smartphone market), markets which gravitate towards budget smartphones with lower end hardware -- RIM's specialty.  But RIM's dominance in these sectors may be short lived as they are increasingly looking to emulate the American market in turning to sleek Android handsets or the iPhone.  

I. RIM Goes Full Hard on Superhero Campaign

But don't worry, investors.  RIM has a plan -- superheroes.  No, really.

RIM has put out a bizarre marketing campaign to boost its sinking market share.  The campaign features childish cartoon caricatures (think 2D versions of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) Xbox Live avatars).

RIM Superheroes
[Image Source: RIM]

Meet Gogo Girl (left), who "saves the day with a brilliant strategy",  Justin Steele (bottom left), who's "always ready to stick up for his friends"; Trudy Foreal (middle), who "isn't afraid to call it as she sees it"; and Max Stone who is "able to jump out of a plane."

The full campaign aired in a RIM blog.

The characters were part of a fancy infographic:

RIM infographic
[Image Source: RIM]
RIM writes:

[F]our bold characters emerged from your #BeBold resolutions, and it’s clear to us that all are bravely stepping out of 2011 and into a 2012 filled with unlimited possibilities. Which are you? Tell @BlackBerry on Twitter!

II. RIM: The Trouble Child of the Smartphone Market

But this is hardly the first sign that the company's grasp of reality may be slipping.  After being outsold nearly 10-to-1 on the U.S. market by Android, new CEO Thorsten Heins claimed that Android phones were unappealing and that all of them were the same.  

While Heins was clearly getting at software differentiation, the majority of consumers don't seem to be finding BlackBerry's fee-laden messaging and email services all that appealing.  While their strong encryption may be a selling point to privacy fanatics, politicians, CEOs, or other high profile officials that handle sensitive transactions on a regular basis, to the average Joe or Jane they're a lot of buck for not much bang, compared to free offerings from rivals.

Mr. Heins was bumped up from the chief operating officer spot, which he came to in 2007 after years at Germany's Siemens AG (ETR:SIE).  Many -- including a vocal investor contingent -- felt the ouster of long time co-CEOs (and company co-founders) Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis was much overdue.

Mr. Heins, for his part, vows to "stay the course", saying that making smartphones "isn't baking cookies."

Kanye baking cookies
[Original Image Source: The Onion, modifications -- DailyTech/Jason Mick]

The "Be Bold" campaign was first announced on Jan. 1 and its new cartoonish mascots just hit the web.  RIM hopes to use the characters to lure consumers back to the company.  RIM will launch in H2 2012 the delayed BB 10 OS, which incorporates elements of QNX.  The new OS was delayed due to RIM's difficulties in attaining acceptable LTE performance, according to company officials.  RIM was forced to rename the OS after its executives (reportedly) refused to listen to their legal staff and named it BBX -- a name that was already trademark by a business software company.

While RIM has struggled in the era of modern touchscreen smartphones with outright flops like the Storm and underwhelming performers like the Torch, it does at least have one strong selling point left for the masses -- it has the best physical keyboards (hands down) in the industry.

Sources: RIM [blog], Engadget

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RE: They forgot...
By JasonMick on 1/31/2012 8:01:31 PM , Rating: 2
quote: is a good start for you :)

Hmm, interesting... might do a piece on the PlayBook OS 2.0 tomorrow. Good to see it's FINALLY getting Android apps. Maybe this can turn things around for them.

Believe it or not I don't go looking for RIM negative RIM news, it typically falls in my lap. Brandon tends to be the one who comes across them and passes them to me. Most of my smartphone articles are assignment, though I do admit I find RIM's predicament interesting.
Storm is nothing like Torch 9850/9860, I understand your anti-RIM bias based on this ancient Strom thing, but isn't it time to update your fact base and stop comparing latest SGS II etc to the ancient crappy BB phone which is so old and outdated? Storm was one of the earliest attempts to make a full touch screen BB phone and now they are at the THIRD iteration, and you are still trolling RIM based on their FIRST iteration. Tell me, don't you look dumb after doing this? I think you do :)

I didn't comment in the article on the Torch other than to point out that people aren't buying it and that the reviews are "underwhelming" (lukewarm).

You seem to suggest that I should reject reviewers' opinion and spend time with the device personally and see for myself.

Well that's great, but not practical. Look, if I had the time I'd review every single thing in the world follow every tech-related bill in the House, write about every hybrid vehicle, analyze every warming study, etc., etc. But I write about a gazillion topics.

When it comes to the original Torch (and even the new one) the reviews I saw were pretty lukewarm and the phone didn't exactly sell very great (I believe sales were around ~150k a month in?).

I can appreciate that you enjoyed it, but why do you think so many people are going with Apple or Android instead?

To me the $10/month services fee is part of it. Sure that makes sense for an Enterprise, but for individual users it's a waste.
I liked its multitasking and web browser more than iPad's (read Anand's review if you want more details about these two differentiating points), hence I feel that RIM is on track to come back with some nice mini-Playbook-like QNX phones, and you are of course free to troll RIM further based on how bad your ancient Storm was. A lot of Android fanboys here appreciate your posts very much, so feel free to continue. Just don't expect any respect from me.

I'm not exactly looking for your respect, but I do find your commentary here somewhat interesting.

As you know, you were long known on here as the "blind Apple fanboy" of sorts, sort of like Tony Swash, but with less time and effort (Tony seems to scour the internet looking for every positive piece of propoganda he can find... definitely a full time hobby... or job, perhaps).

So the fact that you are now so into RIM and have actually began to see the tradeoffs wrt to Apple impresses me and makes me have more respect for you, even if your comments do seem a bit on the trollish side at times.

I'm moderately impressed now that you've explained yourself a bit more clearly and didn't just write...

"STOP trolling RIM micker!! :))))"

...or your typical fare.

Thanks for that.

I'm not here to stroke any particular side -- I like competition. But I'd also be disingenuous to NOT note what products customers seem to find appealing and which ones they're skipping over. For example, I personally wouldn't buy an iPhone (I too am thinking about a Windows Phone), but in my recent commentary I've strained myself to go beyond my own personal preferences and break down why people are picking them at such a high rate, and to give Apple its due credit for this success.

With RIM I'm not by any means trying to "troll" the company, and I constantly point out that it is still profitable. That said sales are dropping (U.S. and overall global), the brass posted a gloomy 2012 outlook, and BB 10 is late.

I'm glad to see there's some good notes and to hear a bit more about why the Torch 2 is worthwhile.

But ultimately I'm reminded of the Palm situation -- one where some customers swear by the product and point to its merits, while the majority dismiss it.

I realize that RIM is a bit different because its core enterprise business is keeping it profitable despite its waning popularity, but I still think that it's approaching a crisis point as more corporate deployments cave and allow iPhones or Android phones.

Maybe (as you hope) BB 10 will turn things around, maybe not. It's too soon to tell.

But hey, you have my email up there, shoot me emails when you see fresh news about good things at RIM. It just seems like I tend to get assigned more bad news than good... but if you are a big fan of RIM you can share the breaking stuff you think is positive with me to level things out.

I always appreciate extra perspective.

Heck, I've been defending Windows Phone since forever and no one seems to like that (in terms of sales).

RE: They forgot...
By retrospooty on 1/31/2012 9:29:08 PM , Rating: 2
Now your just being a troll for the fair and open minded ;)

I personally would love to hear some good news about RIM. We really need more players with more competitive products. It kind of seems like QNX to make a big differenc

RE: They forgot...
By retrospooty on 1/31/2012 9:29:59 PM , Rating: 2
I meant too little too late to make a big difference

RE: They forgot...
By Pirks on 2/1/2012 2:23:22 AM , Rating: 1
I knew you'd wiggle your way out of this, creative guy eh :))) Okay alright, from now on it's Brandon who trolls RIM, not you. I got it.

In the future I'll just say that you follow popular opinion when you criticize RIM, and you do this because you can't form your own opinion based on a thorough analysis of RIM products because you have no time for that.

And.. in the end, I'll add that popular opinion ALSO made Justin Bieber a superstar.

I'll let retrospooties of the world digest that, hehehe :)
you were long known on here as the "blind Apple fanboy"
Haha, I always knew that, people are just dumb here most of the time, and because of that they think that the guy who pwns a crazy PC troll like Motoman or cheesy must be Apple troll himself. No way! If you DO NOT OWN any Apple products (this is my case actually) you can still pwn Motoman when he says insane bullshit like "all Apple users belong to the church of Jobs and they buy Apple products only because of the logo and because Jobs peed on them or something"

So when you laugh at such a crazy fanatic as Motoman for example, people think you are an Apple troll, but it's just PC troll being pwned here by a normal guy. I don't own any Apple products and don't intend to. I only LOOK like an Apple troll because I laugh at and ridicule PC trolls. Got it?

I even disagree with Tony Swash quite often, and you got to see how this throws quite a few local idiots off, this is hilarious. OH MY GOSH PIRKS DISAGREES WITH SWASH THE HELL IS FROZEN OVER!!!11!!! LOL I love local idiots. DT is the best forum definitely, I've never seen so many people with mental problems around :)))
why do you think so many people are going with Apple or Android instead?
Ask yourself: why so few people buy such an excellent phone as WP7, huh? THINK about it Mick, THINK. Didn't you already realize that sales sometimes have nothing common with the quality of the product? Didn't the huge sales of Britney Spears and Justin Bieber albums teach you anything? Do you think because Bieb sells so freakin well he's the best musician in the world? Hell, to me one little note from the music of... I don't know... say, Prem Joshua for example, is worth the whole set of songs Bieb produced and will produce in his future creative life. And so on and so forth, high sales don't mean the product is the best thing ever. Hey just ask Motoman - does he think high iPhone sales mean iPhone is the best thing? He'll tell you EVERYTHING about it, he has a whole freakin' theory about this. His own anti-Apple church, if you will.

So don't slam RIM products because of poor sales. I too thought Playbook was something weird and something I wouldn't like and wouldn't use... until I tried it in store.

I'll send the interesting good news/links about RIM to you when I find them but there's no personal email of yours here, there's just a generic "submit a story" button, who knows where it send the stuff we submit, is it going directly into your inbox?

RE: They forgot...
By Cheesew1z69 on 2/1/2012 8:35:51 AM , Rating: 1
the guy who pwns a crazy PC troll like Motoman or cheesy must be Apple troll himself
Not sure exactly what you think you "pwn", but in your feeble mind, I guess anything is possible.

but it's just PC troll being pwned here by a normal guy
There is nothing normal about you. At. All.

I love local idiots. DT is the best forum definitely, I've never seen so many people with mental problems around :)))
You are number 2 right next to Tony.

RE: They forgot...
By Pirks on 2/1/2012 2:16:04 PM , Rating: 2
Where's your clown bro Sojar? Aren't you two supposed to entertain me together these days? ;) I don't want you dance solo, get Sojar here quick and dance together for me. And don't forget to jump high, I like that part the most :)))

RE: They forgot...
By Cheesew1z69 on 2/1/12, Rating: 0
RE: They forgot...
By Pirks on 2/1/2012 8:16:29 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, you are very predictable indeed. Good point!

RE: They forgot...
By Cheesew1z69 on 2/1/2012 8:29:32 PM , Rating: 1
Like I said....

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