Thursday, December 18, 2008

High Return Rates for BlackBerry Storm

When there is such an incredible amount of hype for a gadget, you’re always going to have unmet expectations and people who are very vocal about their disappointment. Post after post, our excitement and projections were voiced concerning the BlackBerry Storm. The feedback since its launch has involved copious amounts of negative comments and discussions. BlackBerry tried to fix some of the bugs with an OS upgrade shortly after it was made available to the general public, but it seems the update isn’t cutting it. Return rates are being reported from the 30-50 percent range in some markets, which is absurdly high. Boy Genius Report finally got a comment from Verizon concerning the Storm:

 “The Storm has the lowest return rate of any of our PDAs and at this point in its life cycle, it has the highest return rate of any PDA we currently sell.”

 Ouch. So, what went wrong? I believe there are two major factors that lead them to this point. One, BlackBerry really missed the mark when it came to marketing the Storm. BlackBerry has always been for the business professional. They found their niche and perfected a device to serve said niche. I’m all about expanding your brand to serve different markets, but if you’re going to go after the iPhone’s key audience, you’d better have a killer marketing strategy. They had their chance to be a cultural icon and strong competitor to the iPhone. It will be interesting to see if they take another crack at it, or if the Storm simply becomes just another touch device that gets lost in the crowd. Poor marketing on RIMs behalf also lead a lot of BlackBerry addicts to purchase this phone with misguided perceptions. This isn’t a business-savvy device with a touchscreen feature, it’s a media-focused device. Of course their current die-hard following comes up a little miffed. I could go on-and-on about the flaws in their marketing campaign, but let’s move on.

The second mistake, was not testing the device long enough to get the bugs out. With current upgrades rolling out and a sizeable amount of users still unhappy, one has to wonder if the return rate will continue to rise. The worst part of this return rate is now you have a bunch if people stuck on Verizon with their high rates and terrible phone selection.

One thing I feel the need to mention, however, is that there are people who are happy with their Storm. Matter of fact there are people who love their Storm. If you’re a recreational smartphone user, who doesn’t really care if there is a little lag when you switch from portrait to landscape mode, or whether or not it has some obscure feature you absolutely loved in your last BlackBerry – than you’re probably a pretty happy camper. If BlackBerry wants to please both their current market and projected market with this phone, they still have some work to do.

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