When the New York Times ran a story Tuesday declaring Research In Motion’s BlackBerry to be a source of shame for the execs carrying them around, company CEO Thorsten Heins wasted no time firing back.
Heins sent letter to the editor, telling the newspaper that the article “lacks the balance your readers expect.”
“With more than 80 million customers globally, BlackBerry is growing and remains one of the world’s most popular smartphones,” Heins wrote. “I’ve just come from visiting carriers and partners in all parts of the world, and they have told me that there are millions of BlackBerry fans out there who not only find great value in their device, but also pride in being a BlackBerry owner.”
In an article titled “BlackBerry As Black Sheep,” The Times had reported that RIM’s signature BlackBerry “was once proudly carried by the high-powered and the elite, but those who still hold one today say the device has become a magnet for mockery and derision from those with iPhones and the latest Android phones.”
RIM’s blog jumped into the fray as well, declaring the company and its customers to be “black sheep by choice.”
“No doubt, we’ve got a fighting spirit and developed some thick skin being the brunt of jokes, rumors and speculation,” the blog declared. “Hey, we’re all for competition, and a jab here and there keeps us on our toes. Not only do we believe in BlackBerry 10 [the company's long-awaited new platform], but we are proud to be a part of RIM.”
Tech blogger Zach Epstein writes that RIM’s strategy is “to keep its users feeling like they’re part of an underdog team on the verge of a comeback. The strategy is indeed a wise one — playing up RIM’s role as the underdog further unites devoted BlackBerry users as they await RIM’s next-generation devices, which are due to begin launching early next year.”
But that strategy will have to overcome some serious resistance, at least from the people quoted in the Times story.
“I want to take a bat to it,” Rachel Crosby, a sales rep from Los Angeles, said of her BlackBerry, complaining of the phone’s battery life and relative lack of apps.
“You can’t do anything with it. You’re supposed to, but it’s all a big lie.”