Bill Fleckenstein of MSN Money writes on how RIM’s free give aways may spell out trouble. Stopping for a moment in the delicious-data department: Last Tuesday, a friend forwarded an annoying press release that has to go down as one of the goofiest promotions of all time. Papa John’s has announced an offer — in partnership with Research In Motion, I assume, since Papa John can’t be covering the cost of these gadgets — where if you order a pizza online, you can get a free BlackBerry 7100G handheld device.
According to Papa John’s release: “To take advantage of the offer, customers must order online via www.papajohns.com and add to their pizza order two 20-oz. beverages and choice of any delicious side item.”
(Additionally, customers must purchase “a new two-year voice and data service plan,” and send in for a company rebate.)
So, let me see if I get this: If you buy a couple of Cokes and some chicken strips or bread sticks, that is considered to be fair trade for a BlackBerry. You don’t have to be too close to the technology business to understand that this is an act of desperation. There are too many BlackBerrys out there, and Research in Motion needs to move them.
You could argue that getting a free BlackBerry with airline tickets or hotel reservations might make sense, as the demographics match up. And you might get a bona fide user from the offer. But it stretches credulity to think that, because a person orders a Papa John’s pizza, he’s exactly the right person to pay $40 a month for constant contact with his e-mail.
To repeat, this can only be viewed as an act of desperation. I continue to feel that the clock is ticking against Research In Motion. One of these days, there’s going to be a serious implosion in that stock.