In today’s day and age, the appearance of the A/V geek has changed from the prior suspenders-up-till-the-chin dorky look to leather jacket, motorbike chic-cool. The rat race for who can acquire the latest technological advancements first has become the ‘in’ thing for the regular Joe. The highly debatable argument that Apple has all the latest features since its genesis doesn’t seem to matter, nor does the fact that the iPad mini is actually just the iPhone but with a different fancy label. Carrying a digital camera has suddenly become superfluous with the advent of high-end camera phones. This certainly warrants the question: is all this some kind of a breakthrough in technology or have marketing techniques reached that point of ingenious magnitude where the masses have become puppets, dancing for the tech giants’ every whim?
iPhone or BlackBerry? This is often a question that usually floods a Facebook page when set as a status update — garnering animated exchanges of viewpoints. It also serves as the perfect ice-breaker at a dinner party when everyone whips out their phones to fill that awkward silence. And since everybody has become self-proclaimed technology buffs, there is always that obvious divide of Team iPhone vs. Team BlackBerry. Team iPhone has definitely dominated its competitor in the last couple of years due to the diverse range of apps available in the iTunes app store, robust features that make it more user-friendly in the business world, sleek designs and simply the fact that it is more entertaining for the average person.
The New Look Of BlackBerry
Research in Motion (RIM), a one-time visionary in the smartphone industry, has lost substantial market share to the iPhone. Several tech analysts suggest that RIM will have to reinvent their brand to regain consumer popularity. Their chance comes with the unveiling of the BlackBerry 10 on January 30, 2013, where they can attempt to catch up in this tortoise-and-hare-race. by introducing a stellar new operating system. But lo and behold, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, as the BlackBerry is pulling a complete makeover in order to resemble its nemesis, evident from the pictures of the new device leaked on a Vietnamese website.
Sourced from a Vietnamese tech news site, the gadget looks sleek, shiny and futuristic — in other words, suspiciously like the iPhone. The images suggest Research in Motion has finally dropped the QWERTY keyboard that was their brand’s virtual trademark in favor of a full touch-screen device.
This single white female strategy is startling albeit just plain clever; give the consumer a tried-and-tested image that is already embedded in the mind’s eye as being the best, disguise it under a different label, push this idea to the brink with concrete advertising about how this phone will change your work, and love life, and eventually people are dying to see what the ruckus is all about and then watch the numbers increase on that popularity pie chart.
Will It Be Enough?
BlackBerry 10 Sneak Peek
Habitual identification in our hedonistic world, where marketing is our materialistic guru, has now become a necessity. Everyone knows what an iPhone looks like, even from afar, thus alluding to the fact that we are comfortable with what we know, but contentment is a fluid notion that only builds when we get the chance to acquire better and fancier versions of that knowledge.
To further add to their agenda of challenging the iPhone with their version, a RIM spokesperson recently said that the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE), will begin a pilot program early next year on RIM’s new line of BlackBerry 10 smartphones and BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (BES 10). Waterloo, Ontario-based RIM is now seeking to persuade both corporations and government users to personal-stick with its smartphones.
Let’s face it — the phone is primarily needed for making calls and sending text messages. All the cool gimmicks and accessories that the vendors bestow upon us are a by-product of the phone that marketers are essentially adding into the core value of the phone. They give people innovative ways to enrich their day-to- day lives with the resources available on this small little device. The smarties behind smartphones have given people the chance to literally have their whole lives etched out on different formats the mobile has to offer. But more importantly, it is how we perceive the importance of the phone in our daily discourse and activities is where the genius lies.
The better you can understand your brand’s target audience, their behavior, their patterns, their needs, wants and pain points, the more effectively you can make their hypothetical wish list a reality, and in this case marketers have made the smartphone, particularly the iPhone, a user’s best friend. The app store is any person’s virtual candy store where you can pick and choose your likes and wants and feel a sense of security and power by seeing them sitting neatly in their little squares constantly on your phone. And now RIM will be offering different tiers of service and letting users choose from options from a menu to better suit the needs of individual customers.
The Future Of Smartphones (And RIM)
People identify with their phones. That tingle of horror that runs down your spine when you think you have left your phone somewhere, and the relief you feel when you finally clasp your fingers around it after rummaging in your handbag or jeans pocket, are symbiotic of the power the phone has over us — it’s the feel and touch of the phone that also perks our sensory perception of psychological attachment.
The major shift from keypad to touch-screen and the overall iPhone look of the BlackBerry 10 will trigger the consumer’s subconscious mind to identify with the phone’s exterior. The grip of the hand while holding the BlackBerry 10 will be familiar and the touch-screen will allow users to resume their similar typing and accessing options style.
We often tend to look at our phones a lot more than we watch TV or glance at our computer screen. The versatility of the mobile becomes like your life partner without the marriage license that you always keep close, kind of like a metaphorical safety blanket. Interestingly, as sourced in many an article online about the wonders of mobile marketing, smartphones and mobile devices can even provide an opportunity to express one’s individuality by customizing its display (an idea that presumably derives from the wallpaper concept of the PC world).
Granted, not all smartphone users are so active, but suffice it to say, it is a psychological relief to know that in any given situation you can turn to your phone for an answer, be it to plan your day, to calculate bills or simply to clam the nerves by pumping up the music.
The all-in-one accessibility of the smartphone has made it a do-or-die for some as well. When networks were closed during the Muharram holidays and in the days of political unrest in Karachi, it felt like doom’s day where people scattered like ants frantically logging in to the Wi-Fi at home or at a restaurant, breathing a sigh of relief when that one bar of internet appeared on the screen. It wasn’t so much about not being able to get through on the phone (albeit a major inconvenience) but the loss of BBM and SMS that made it all that much worse. It felt like you were not in touch with reality as much hence the massive lull that dawned upon the city for those fateful days.
With people always having the evergreen desire to have the best mobile companion, RIM is single-handedly appealing to the psyche of the 21st century consumer. Instead of offering some crazy new phone and then administering the next step of mad advertising gimmicks to have people try this cool new thing. RIM are cutting out the period of trying-and-testing by adopting an already successful theory, meaning the external layout of the iPhone and their own solid reputation in order to create a hybrid — a best of both worlds, so to speak.