Tweeting your chest
In a bizarrely appropriate indictment of how social media obsessed we have come, RIM's PR agency emailed me at the end of last week to bring my attention to a tweet. We're always being told about Twitter being the place all the cools kids get their news these days, but if even journalists need to be alerted to key tweets by email, maybe Twitter hasn't taken over the world just yet.
The tweet in question went as follows: "Pow! @BlackBerry continues momentum across EMEA with 1 Million+ new subscribers added in less than 3 weeks. #teamblackberry ^CH". When I contacted the agency so see if there was any more information, I was given a long quote from Patrick Spence, EMEA MD for RIM, some of which I've reproduced below.
"BlackBerry continues to be the number one smartphone brand in a number of our markets, including the Netherlands, South Africa and the UK - where we also remain the number one smartphone vendor by total unit sales, and the number one prepay smartphone vendor," said Spence.
Of course, in the olden days RIM would simply have instructed its PR agency to email journalists with the information and supporting quotes. The agency might even have whipped all this information into some kind compelling narrative. How we've progressed.
Those are quite decent figures though, it has to be said. A million EMEA subscribers in three weeks is a good effort and I must admit to being surprised that BlackBerry is the number one smartphone maker in the UK. Of course that all depends on how you define a smartphone, and the Bold and Curve, which don't offer the full iPhone-like touchscreen experience, are borderline in my opinion.
The Guardian reported on an interesting piece of research this morning thaT BlackBerry is doing even better than Android in the UK when it comes to picking up feature-phone users looking to upgrade to smartphones. However a lot of this growth looks like it's coming from younger users attracted to the BBM messaging service and some low prices, and that it will be tough to hold onto these gains as the market grows more smartphone-savvy.
"However, a concern for brands targeting the lower end of the market is that once consumers have tried a smartphone they are prepared to spend more on their next device and could turn to other brands," said the author of the report. "With more and more consumers buying smartphones the future for middle-to-high-end smartphones is set to become ever more competitive."
While the majority of consumers are probably not even aware of the fact that BlackBerry is on the cusp of moving to a new platform, one they become familiar with iOS, or Android, or WP7, they may become less forgiving of some of the existing platform's failings. All these factors mean that, while RIM is to be applauded for its string EMEA performance, things may look rather different in a year's time. Maybe having its tablets bundled into future cars will help.