It has been subtle but a significant change none the less that BlackBerry in India has been airing ads on the radio targeting college students, telling them how it could help them take on the questions from their teachers, while sharing pictures of their pets and staying connected via Facebook and chat. The same theme is also driven in the point of sale (POS) material promoting the BlackBerry brand in general and the Curve 8520 in specific.
One is not really sure if its BlackBerry or some other phone when one sees the POS material talking about Facebook, messaging and music and we used to think that the BlackBerry was all about enterprise email. Its clear that RIM is working hard to shed its enterprise only image and latch on to consumers. Without consumers, holding on in the face of the attack from the iPhone would be impossible.
Another change in the retailing of the BlackBerry, the salesperson would generally never suggest a BlackBerry to a female customer. However one did notice that female customers were being recommended the Curve 8520 as an option to consider. This is a very clear change in the demographics being targeted.
While not noticed by many, consumers had take over the enterprise segment during the 4Q-FY09 of RIM. As of Aug-09, it has been estimated by MKM Partners, that 57% of the subscriber base were using the BlackBerry Internet Service (BIS), while the enterprise segment using the BlackBerry Enterprise Service comprised the remaining 43%. This change in the subscriber profile is driven by the fact that less than 20% of net additions during the last few quarters have been BES users.
Traditionally RIM has been week if not non-consequential in market outside the US. The strategy of going after the consumer in markets outside the US with a low priced offering which is not locked to an operator and distributed via multi-brand outlets appears to be showing some initial results.
The iPhone which has been been at best a limited success if not a failure in Japan, China and India with very inital success in korea would do well to keep an eye on this new approach of RIM.