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Cracking the Crackberry Code

Cracking the Crackberry Code Cracking the Crackberry Code Cracking the Crackberry Code Cracking the Crackberry Code
11/8/13
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by Frida Chen
Once a symbol of status, owning a BlackBerry meant you were hip, successful and up-to-date on the latest technological trends. Hot and addictive, the device quickly earned the moniker “crackberry” in 2006, and those who owned one seemed trendy and professional, the envy of fashionistas and businessmen alike.

Today, the trendiest smartphones are big, sleek and navigable at the slide of a finger—devoid of keyboards or blinking notification lights, and notably, devoid of the once-acclaimed BlackBerry paw logo.

Often times, brands as strong as Blackberry have managed to successfully ride changing trends and adapt to changing times. But such was not the fate for BlackBerry. Which begs the question: How is it that a brand, once a pillar of technological innovation and style, was so swiftly swallowed up by its competitors so soon?

To uncover the answer, we turn to the BAV data, which has been tracking BlackBerry since 2002.

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Our data indicates that BlackBerry grew rapidly from a “new” or “unknown” brand to a “niche” brand between 2002 and 2005. Thereafter, the brand continued to progress toward BAV’s leadership quadrant, demonstrating substantial upward momentum and overall brand strength.

But in 2008, the first iPhone was released—and Blackberry took a corresponding hit in sales and profit. Despite this, the brand soon recovered by expanding its market share, launching new models and focusing on business professionals. As a result, it reached its strongest position on the BAV Powergrid in 2009.

But, in 2011, as sleek, flat, finger-swipable screens proliferated, Blackberry’s began its downward spiral. To start, the brand saw a decline in the BAV metric known as Energized Differentiation, signaling that consumers no longer saw the brand as a unique brand within the competitive set. Moreover, although the brand was high on BAV’s Knowledge metric, it was low on metrics of Esteem and Relevance, indicating that while most people felt they knew a lot about the brand, they didn’t like what they knew or feel that it was relevant to their lives. Consumers became increasingly unreceptive to Blackberry, leaving the company’s communications unable to repair the damaging negative relationship between Knowledge and Esteem.

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The brand plummeted from being seen as trendy, distinctive and gaining in popularity to being seen in a more negative light—namely, arrogant, due perhaps in large part to BlackBerry’s stubborn reluctance to cater to emerging consumer preferences amidst the rapidly innovating mobile phone industry.

True, BlackBerry is still seen as visionary, innovative, progressive and intelligent—but these perceptions can only last as long as the company develops products that reinforce them. With the recent successful launch of the new BMM available on iPhones and Androids, perhaps BlackBerry will revisit its glory days once again. Or is it too late? Only time will tell…

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