Tuesday, 2 December 2008

How to break a Blackberry

I seem to be writing about Stephen Fry a lot at the moment. Partly because I'm a big fan who could recite Blackadder off by heart when I was a kid, but I suspect mostly because he is always front of mind through his brilliant use of Twitter (not so much marketing his own work as marketing Twitter to the UK). Anyway, as I mentioned below, he is a bit of an Apple fan, and and as Guardian Dork Talk readers know, one of the country's leading authorities on mobiles, smart phones and the like.

Anyway, this is all relevant because of a couple of tweets he wrote last week.

"Been playing with the BB Storm. Shockingly bad. I mean embarrassingly awful. Such a disappointment. Rushed out unfinished. What a pity."

"Yes, I blame n'works more than RIM. Problems are terrible lag: inaccurate t'screen, awful, slow and fiddly text input. I SO wanted to like it."

"Plus the GPS maps won't work - issue with BIS connections. I see from forums postings this is widespread in the UK. iPhone killer? Ha!"

You'd expect that the sort of people who make up Stephen's 24,000 followers on Twitter would include lots of other people who grew up being captivated by his wit. They might very well also be the sort of people who might already have Blackberries, and be thinking around Xmas time about whether to upgrade the iPhone or try this potential iPhone killer. I certainly passed the link on to a couple of people who asked my opinion. And given that Stephen has worked all through his career at the BBC, you might expect one or two journalists might interested in this opinion. And sure enough, Rory Cellan-Jones picked this up over the weekend for the BBC's tech blog dotlife, and questioned whether Stephen Fry could kill a Blackberry?

Although it is a bit scary to put that sort of power in the hands of an Apple fan, you have got to question what RIM/Vodafone (not sure whose responsibility it would be) are doing in not involving someone with Stephen's authority in their field. It isn't difficult to map networks and see where the authority lies (although you'd hope they might know...)

His comments above would be valuable feedback if they were gathered BY Vodafone before the product launched. They could be addressed, and an authoritative tech blogger would feel that his experience had contributed to any success the product had. As it is, the gadget websites that probably formed the core PR campaign have got a much better story - a celebrity who hates the product. At this point I should link to a relevant gadget website, but I'm not going to do that. You see the media agency are just as culpable as the PR agency for not being in touch with what's going on. Check the Blackberry Storm contextually targeted ads are all over this T3 screenshot

It shouldn't be this difficult guys.....


lenisebrothers said...

I am definitely one of those Blackberry users who was thinking about upgrading (as you saw from my tweets). I was dissuaded after reading both the Stephen Fry piece and this piece in the NY Times (http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/27/technology/personaltech/27pogue.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=blackberry%20storm&st=cse). I haven't abandoned Blackberry altogether though - I got a Bold at the weekend and I am very happy!

I agree that the media, creative and PR agencies should be working together. Although you can't hide negative reviews, you CAN run contextually targeted ads with copy that addresses the overriding themes in the reviews.

Graeme Wood said...

Agreed - if you are going to contextually target when there is a lot of negative feedback, then do something more useful than sales messaging. And although you can't hide negative reviews once they exist, you can work with influential bloggers pre-launch to minimise their impact

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