Coming at you with what we hope is the second of many articles, our main man Thought continues down the path of his previous piece to let all the BlackBerry Cool faithful out there know why RIM is poised for success in the consumer market. So give it a read, and when you’re done make Thought proud: post a comment.
In my last post on business models I asserted my belief that it is far easier to go from leadership in the enterprise segment to a position of strength in the consumer market, rather than the other way around. This is of interest to BlackBerry Cool readers because RIMâ€™s position right now is precisely that of leader in the enterprise market but seeking to establish itself in the consumer market.
To have a strong reputation in the business market is an enormous advantage when seeking to enter the consumer market. Why?
Many consumers use or at least know of the Blackberry technology from their own work experience. Moreover, the Blackberry has become so successful that many who have never even used one recognize the name. So there is an already established recognition factor with a sizable segment of the population.
Success in the enterprise market creates credibility with the consumer. Consumers tend to have high regard for the tools of professionals. The assumption usually is that if a brand is good enough for the more demanding professional market, then it likely is good for consumers as well.
For example, many amateur photographers buy Canon or Nikon simply because Canon and Nikon are the choice of so many professional photographers. Motorola also benefited from its history of supplying two-way radios to the military when it launched into the consumer cell phone market. These are but two of many examples of a consumer brand successfully trading off of its reputation with professionals.
The Blackberry has become a status symbol. We see the numerous celebrities carrying one, the news reporters using one while on the air, we read about executives and government officials who admit to using one, and we realize that the Blackberry has attained a special cultural status.
When a product is very successful in the business marketplace it can cross the gap from merely establishing credibility to becoming a symbol of status and prestige. Such is the case with the Blackberry. Indeed, pagers and cell phones followed a similar evolution from business tool to consumer must-have device.
Does it Work the Other Way?
Does the arrow of market success operate in the opposite direction? Can a device leverage success in the consumer market to gain success in the enterprise segment? In a word, the answer is a resounding â€œNo.â€ Businesses are by nature pragmatic and results-oriented; popularity in the consumer market does not translate into credibility gains with corporate decision makers regarding which equipment to purchase.
Try convincing the head of an IT department to buy Alienware computers because they have all the latest bells and whistles. Try convincing a professional photographer to ditch his Canon in favor of a Kodak, because those Easy Share cameras are so popular. It just doesnâ€™t fly.
Therefore, any advantages that RIMâ€™s competitors currently have in consumer market share are unlikely to make much difference in shifting enterprise market share away from RIM.
The Bottom Line:
Thanks to its success in the enterprise segment, the Blackberry brand now enjoys advantages of recognition, credibility, and status as it is poised to enter the consumer market. If RIM comes out with a well designed consumer product line with its usual quality and attention to detail, (and every indication is that they will), the company could make a significant impact in this market.