What Happened? BlackBerry User Customer Satisfaction Versus iPhone

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ChangeWave is a research company that we’ve had problems with in the past as their surveys tend to be skewed to the point where you wonder if they’re owned or influenced by Apple. We cover these surveys because we know BlackBerryCool readers are smart enough to read through the bias and take it all with a grain of salt. The good that comes from these surveys are the talking points.

ChangeWave’s latest Consumer Smart Phone survey covers the second half of 2010. The survey takes a look at demand for the new Apple iPhone 4 and the HTC Droid Incredible, along with the impact they are having on the rest of the smartphone industry. One of the more interesting parts of the survey includes the BlackBerry versus iPhone customer satisfaction survey.

The above graph shows that Apple’s satisfaction rating is fairly steady, hovering somewhere around a 75-76% average. RIM’s customer satisfaction on the other hand, has a distinct parabolic shape. The explanation given by ChangeWave is that BlackBerry’s customer satisfaction was on a steady rise but fell as users took its core features, email, reliability and security, for granted. As other smartphones began to promote flashy new features such as large touchscreens, powerful cameras, rich web browsers and innovative apps, the BlackBerry’s core strengths seemed to pale in significance.

Something that is worth questioning with regards to the ChangeWave study is the demographics of who is participating in the survey. The survey results seem very skewed towards a North American, mid-20s demographic, where RIM does have some customer satisfaction issues. Where BlackBerry shines in customer satisfaction, is the above 30 and below 20 age groups, as well as international markets.

The survey results seem to reflect a concern raised at RIM’s AGM. One shareholder asked why customers camp out on the doorstep of a store whenever a new version of the iPhone is released, but that never seems to happen when a new BlackBerry is unveiled. Everyone seems to be asking “where has BlackBerry’s cool factor gone?”.

The answer to this question is two-fold. One, BlackBerry’s cool factor is defined differently than Apple or Google’s. Two, maybe it has gone somewhere: global.

BlackBerry’s cool factor isn’t based on a flashy touchscreen, games or a 10MP camera. BlackBerry’s cool factor is defined as a productivity tool that is focused on utility, rather than entertainment. Just look at the latest announcements from both companies. Apple has announced a front facing camera with video chat and a new gaming platform. RIM has announced a service to reduce lost device rates and protect data as well as a BES policy to handle corporate liable versus employee liable BlackBerrys.

For some of the same reasons that PCs are more popular internationally than Macs, you will see BlackBerrys dominating the market more than iPhones across the globe. We already know that RIM is the 2nd most popular smartphone internationally and this is going to continue to grow. Mike Lazaridis made a great point during the AGM that eventually the entire world will be using a smartphone. Who do you think is going to lead that technology revolution: a gaming device or an enterprise-grade smartphone with a low price point?

Again, ChangeWave’s results are to be taken with a grain of salt but they do seem to echo a lot of what the North American media are saying about BlackBerry.

  • MobileAdmin
    I think the difference (iPhone / BB) is Apple can be very focused on a core device and everyone knows that device is comin out on X date pretty much yearly. RIM has too many models and they release at different times. Stateside it's just the difference between 1 model / 1 carrier and every carrier / multi models. Apple gets consistency due to this thus the tide rises as everyone pretty much uses the same thing. Yes they actually are 4 "models" but it's pretty much the same thing. If you used a Edge model the iPhone 4 is basically identical.

    If / When Apple goes to other carriers will they be able to coordinate a yearly launch across carriers?

    To be the new devices while exciting are more MID then smartphone. While yes it's sexy and fun to have larger screens, video conferencing etc. The core most use a mobile device has stayed pretty static for 10 years.

    - phone calls
    - TXT / Email

    Thus Blackberries position. The grass is not always greener. I use all the devices and on the MID/App devices you have to accept a lesser email experience, I just don't feel as "productive" but then I'm usually dicking around with all the fun stuff and not plowing through 100 emails etc.

    I'd like detail on changewaves demos. What was the Blackberry users made up of?

    Was the device Personal Liable / Corporate Liable?
    What model Blackberry? OS?

    If I was some BB users on a Corporate Liable 8310 of course I'd feel it sucked compared to a iPhone 4 / latest Android device.
  • BM
    RIMM's downfall will be their slow reaction to creating a multimedia phone. I have the storm 1 and am eagerly awaiting the iphone 4 in Canada. I want to stay with BB, but I can't see why I would when they are always trying to catchup to the iphone. Might as well get the leader instead of the follower.

    Not a fan boy, just thinking about this logically.
    RIM knows that they are behind the 8 ball and need to catch up and fast. BB 6 is revloutionary for RIM cause 4.0 & 5.0 can't match it based on the videos. People just need to find a phone that suits their own needs. BB is a business phone trying to a fun/social toy which may backfire if not done correctly. IPhone is fun/social phone trying to be a business phone. Android is just trying to do it all at the same time. None of them are perfect and each have problems. I had Storm 1 and now the Storm 2 and I'm happy with the phone becasue I needed it for email and texting to run my business. Not for Farmville and Tap defense. People just need to quit complaining and remember that it needs to be a phone first. People expect to much from a cellphone. BB phones have the best security than any other phone on the market. Iphone hacked.....Android..rooted... BB..........? Exactly!!! The BB App store , not the most impressive collection but there are useful apps for work and play. If you can't wait for BB to imporve then go get another phone. Just that simple.
  • pattste
    I agree with the survey and most comments so far. The BlackBerry is a pretty good platform and some have announced its demise many times in the past, yet the company has always managed to grow and prosper. This time however both the iPhone and Android platforms present really formidable competition. I would like to believe that BlackBerry will wow us in the months to come, but I have my doubts. Many appear to be excited by OS6 but to me it looks like an incremental upgrade and nothing revolutionary. The best BlackBerry hardware is way behind the best smartphones on other platforms. To remain relevant, BlackBerry must do several of the following and do it soon: Release a phone with a lot of memory (minimum 1Gb, none of that 512Mb non-sense), a large high-resolution display (unlike the one on the leaked 9800 model) and cameras with decent specs. Integrate all the various messaging platforms they developed into BlackBerry Messenger. Release a browser that won't take a minute to render a 148K html page. Invest some money into 1st party, high-visibility apps like the Facebook client to make sure they're killer apps that at least rival the iPhone and Android versions. Stop trying to make cheap, low-margin, high-volume devices to sell to India and China; Nokia did it successfully yet became largely irrelevant in the process. Just give us a phone that will make us want to camp outside Best Buy three days before the release.
  • Jonas
    I think the reason for the huge difference in the survey is that BlackBerry users are very critical and just love to complain, while iPhone users are mostly Apple fanboys who love everything Apple makes, no matter how shitty it is. Remember when the iPhone 4 antenna was broken by design and the users said things like "oh well, it's actually ok because errr we're using bluetooth headsets instead of holding our phones anyway". Or when the iPhone didn't have multitasking for years and everyone said "what do you need multitasking for anyway?" Now that Apple brings something they call multitasking to the iPhone, they're talking about how "revolutionary" it is. Or some time ago when the MacBook batteries exploded, and the Apple fanboys just said "yeah, but that's not because of Apple, it's because of the other guys who build Apples hardware", etc etc.
    BlackBerry users are completely different. When something doesn't work exactly the way they want it to, they're pissed and start complaining. Even if it's something completely irrelevant or some feature noone else but this particular complaining user would ever use. And even if they absolutely love something, they'll complain just because it's not free (and give a bad review, happened to an BB app I developed).
  • Eric at Ebscer
    There is some truth to this.

    Additionally I think BlackBerry's biggest problem is getting their products out the door. AppWorld 2.0 was publicly demoed about a month ago, yet it hasn't been released. Whatever they are waiting for could just be added to version 2.1

    In a more extreme example we saw the webkit browser half a year ago but still do not have it. It is not that RIM can't develop good software, but instead that there is this large delay between when the software is finished and when we get it. Internally RIM isn't worried, because what they have looks great, externally we are a bit disappointed because it is so obvious that they can do so much better.

    There are understandable reasons that hardware sometimes gets delayed, but when it comes to software you need to release early and often...
  • Jonas
    I see your point, but I think RIM is doing this exactly right. Just because they've presented their new webkit browser (for example), it doesn't mean that it's finished and ready for release. They just want to let the people who complain about the current BB browser know that they've heard them and that they're working on a cool new browser for the BlackBerry.

    I also think that release-early-and-often is good practice in most cases, but you have to remember that the browser is not a normal app that you can install OTA, but it's an essential part of the OS and it will be deeply integrated into the system. I don't know if the webkit browser will be available for OS 5.0 or only 6.0+, but in any case you'll have to update your OS to get it. Now let's assume that about 1% of all BlackBerry owners are powerusers like we are, people who are active on sites like bbcool or crackberry, install lots of apps and who are always running the latest leaked OS. Most of the other 99% is probably still running the OS that was preinstalled on their devices, even if there have been official updates by their providers. I think most of them doesn't even know that the OS _can_ be updated or how to do it. People just go to a store, buy a smartphone and use it. If it doesn't work, they'll buy a smartphone from another brand next time. (This is about private users. People with corporate BlackBerry devices will have an administrator who updates their devices - or not).

    As a company like RIM you just can't release a OS version with a buggy browser and then release 10 further OS versions with bug fixes in short intervals and expect all users to update their devices or just live with a buggy/broken browser. Especially when you're releasing a new device with the broken browser preinstalled.
  • toddz
    Well, if 99% of T-Mobile 9700 owners never updated the OS then that means only 1% can actually use text messaging. The T-Mobile 9700 was released with a worst OS build I have ever come across in years of owning BlackBerry smart phones. For this phone you are correct, they should have waited and got it working correctly.

    As for the webkit browser, I am pretty sure from the rumors that I have heard that I will never see it or OS 6 on my BlackBerry 9700. Unfortunately that puts me in a bad spot when OS and the webkit browser is finally released. Stick with BlackBerry or just go somewhere else because no matter what my current phone is end of life.
  • Eric at Ebscer
    But instead of getting the webkit browser perfect, they should be more concerned if it is better then what they are currently shipping. And all indications are that has been the case for quite some time.

    If people are not going to upgrade their software, than you want to have your absolute newest code out there when the first purchase it. RIM should be releasing their software aggressively enough that there are no leaked OS versions.

    I really see this as more of an argument for automatic updates than anything else. (Something RIM is getting better at, and doing well for third party applications with their AppWorld notifications.)
  • Jeff
    The customer satisfaction slide co-insides with the launch of the Storm (roundly criticized by most people I talk to) as well as the increasing penetration of low cost BlackBerry devices. Most people I know who buy a cheap phone would not say they are very satisfied -- but they do understand they bought a cheap phone, not a high-end expensive phone. So while the 'very satisfied' rating may go down, for valid reasons, it doesn't mean that RIM should stress over that specific customer satisfaction metric.
  • JonnyW23
    It will be interesting to see the next survey result, given the diaster that is the iPhone4, if satisfaction does not drop then it is clearly heavily biased.

    I own a BlackBerry Bold 9700 on 3 (in the UK) and I love it... okay iPhones do have their advantages, as @endlessike mentions, browsing is not great on BlackBerry and is better on iPhone, but if you are a media hungry poser, go for the iPhone and if you prefer a functional, solid and efficent phone go for a BlackBerry.

    In my opinion, BlackBerry and iPhone will dominate the market, it is not about arguing which one is best, it is just the case that these are the best players in the smartphone market (apologies to android lovers), depending on what you use your phone for.

    A recent article shows BlackBerry to have a 'Tribal' brand following - brands that haven’t yet reached legend status but have a loyal and valuable following are termed “tribal" - True i think that love/hate relationship is certainly clear - but the ones that love their BlackBerry cant praise it enough ... http://bit.ly/bBFbf4
  • G507043
    I think we bb users are just sick of the delay in getting product out. BB6 fine but we don't have it yet!!!! Come on RIM you are really dropping the ball with every day that goes by.

    I was honestly excited when I first heard of an then saw images of the slider but seriously there isn't even a release date yet and it isn't even as visually impressive as current phone already on the market. I will probably get the slider but every day that goes by I'm thinking of going to a droid phone instead (not apple , had one and they are crap).
  • toddz
    I stopped defending RIM and Blackberry devices when I purchased a 9700 from T-Mobile. Out of the box it was a disaster. SMS didn't work right, service would drop to GPRS during calls, UMA kept bouncing between 3G and UMA, GPS can't find a signal without a direct view of a cloudless sky, the list goes on. Everyone just kept telling me to upgrade to firmware from another provider. Well guess what, I shouldn't have to shoe horn in some other vendors firmware by deleting files and running the loader directly. Sure it was easy enough but why not just build something that works out of the box. I could have lived with a few bugs but this thing was like participating in a beta test with weekly builds.
  • Kingbernie06511
    I agree with the survey.

    For a long time RIM has bragged about the number of device they have been selling, but a lot of them have been old Curves, dirt cheap, that dont even come with OS5 or an OS version that looks 3 years old+. Though price is attractive, they cant sustain any comparison with newer OS interface, browsing and hardware from Apple or HTC/Android.

    Its just like comparing an old WinPhone with the first generation of iPhone.

    I was so dissapointed when Rim was pushing so many obsolete handsets out the door....
  • Eric at Ebscer
    For the most part I agree, but would like to point out that RIM has righted the ship in some regards in this area.

    The 83xx line has finally been discontinued, and RIM allowed the 9630 to quickly disappear and make way for the 9650. With the exception of the 8900 (which is now mostly just sold overseas) every phone that RIM currently sells was released in the past 11 months.

    Unlike the 83xx and 81xx lines that were around far longer than they should have been, RIM now seems ready to update their phones quicker...
  • endlessike
    I like my BlackBerry well enough, and use it for both work and all my personal stuff, download apps, etc.

    It's obvious what the problems are to anyone who's used an iphone or android device in the past year.

    1) browsing sucks, has sucked, and will probably continue to suck. OS isn't horrible but could use some updates, we'll see if OS 6 is anything more than hype.
    2)the app world is a joke. Selection is pitifiul, and not just the selection, but the prices. 20 and 30 dollar apps are the norm, whereas on other platforms that would be laughable. I think this is mostly a product of the core demographic, namely rich white guys who a) don't know what apps are, b) are willing to pay whatever for an app they determine they need.
    3) Hardware sucks. Sorry, but having 256 mb for app storage is bullshit. Why has every other phone manufacturer figured out how to give you several gigs without the need for buying micro SD cards?

    So what are we left with 1) first party software sucks; 2) Hardware sucks; 3) Third party software sucks.

    Game set match. if RIM doesn't figure things out soon its only a matter of time before enterprise clients start leaving. The writing's on the wall...All it takes is one tech savvy CEO who really loves his android phone and doesn't want to have to carry around it and his blackberry to lose a company.
  • JAK
    I am inclined to agree with the survey. I have an original Bold with a dodgy trackerball, which I have to keep replacing.

    I looked at the Storm 1, Storm 2 and the new Bold. None of which excites enough to make me replace. In fact, I want to upgrade, but am increasing left with the feeling that Rim have lost their way or more likely they see us as a captive market which they can milk by bring out limited upgrades to existing models.

    Sadly my excitement over being a BB owner is slowly turning to jaded disappointment as time passes.
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