Nishtha KanalOct 15, 2013 13:08:02 IST
BlackBerry has taken to the print media to try and calm frayed nerves with an open letter that 30 major news publications across 9 countries are carrying. The point: to assure long-time BlackBerry users that all’s well in the BB paradise.
The letter, says IntoMobile, is not “as entertaining as the Miley Cyrus and Sinead O’Connor one, but interesting just the same.” It is addressed to “valued customers, partners and fans” and tries to dispel some myths and rumours about the company.
With a mix of bold text and italics, the company helplessly screams out, “You can continue to count on BlackBerry.” It’s kind of scary when a company has to insert paid messages in your newspapers, almost begging that you put your faith in them. “Reading it is like watching Lance Armstrong admit his Tour de France doping to Oprah Winfrey: painful,” says ZDNet.
"Stand by us"
The company goes on to assure users that it has things under control with cash on hand, a balance sheet that is debt free and a restructuring activity underway with a goal to cut its expenses by 50 percent. And if you’ve been living under a rock for the past year or so, BlackBerry goes on to describe how each phone from its portfolio is a “best in class productivity tool.”
It also goes on to assure users that BlackBerry is still the best in class security as well as class enterprise mobility management. Governments rely on it and so do organisations since it’s really good with its security and delivers on it promises.
Sadly enough, the open letter also mentions bringing the BBM app to Android and iPhone. While no time frame was given for the apps coming in the letter, in a separate interview to Reuters, BlackBerry’s Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben said that BBM for Android and iOS is coming within a few days.
As for the letter, Boulben said, "We want customers to know that they can continue to count on us - we are here to stay. We have substantial cash on our balance sheet and we have no debt. We are restructuring our cost base and this is a very painful transition, but it will make us financially stronger and we want to get that message directly to our customers."
Not many are buying Boulben’s statements, though. TechnoBuffalo hits the nail on the head, “The problem with Boulben’s statements is that, while BlackBerry might have plans to continue to exist now, it’s unclear what any potential acquiring party will do with the firm. That’s why there’s some concern, at least from our perspective, about how long BlackBerry will continue to offer support for its products and release new devices and software into the smartphone market,” it says.
Even as you start to look at the world through the rose-tinted glasses thrown at you by BlackBerry, the letter says, “Yes, there is a lot of competition out there and we know that BlackBerry is not for everyone. That’s OK. You have always known that BlackBerry is different, that BlackBerry can set you apart.” Yes, BlackBerry, but this is all talk. As Android Community rightly points out, “No one can deny that BlackBerry is in hot water. That is, no one except BlackBerry itself.”
Here’s an interesting bit – the open letter has not been signed by one of the big bosses like Thorsten Heins or Boulben himself, but by “The BlackBerry Team”. TechCrunch's Chris Velazco says, “I find it interesting too that the letter is signed by the BlackBerry team and not by, say, CEO Thorsten Heins. It’s a clear indicator that there’s no one single person to blame for the company’s current shakiness, nor does the future of the company rest solely on one person’s decisions.” The company seems to be herding together in order to shelter itself and its top echelons for some massively bad decisions taken in the past.
“Case in point,” VentureBeat author Devindra Hardawar recounts an incident about how BlackBerry has lost customers’ faith. “While shopping for an iPhone 5S at a T-Mobile store this weekend, I witnessed an employee actively discourage a BlackBerry fan from buying a new BB10 device. ‘They’re in serious trouble,’ he said.”
With a shaky past and an uncertain future, can BlackBerry manage to regain the only thing it has left – customer support? Your guess is as good as ours at this point of time. Step one would now be to wait for BlackBerry to stick to its promise of releasing BBM for Android and iOS in the next few days. That will be the litmus test of whether or not BlackBerry’s erroneous ways will be forgiven and forgotten by fans.
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