Receiving an SMS from my operator on Sunday lunchtime that opened with ‘Dear valued customer’ and closed with ‘please visit your provider for alternative services’ signified the abrupt end to my eight year relationship with BlackBerry.
My BB has been all over the world with me and never let me down, I love the way it works, I’m happy with how it looks (not fabulous, but chic) and now I’m stuck. It’s like finding out your favourite lipstick has been discontinued. I’m left with no options – I have two months until I have to put BB to bed and search out a replacement and the thought of learning how a new device works just drives me to the point of insanity.
I don’t know if I’ve been dumped by BlackBerry or by my provider (let’s not get into the reasons why here.. the official line is that the Telco Regulatory Authority here in the UAE are banning BlackBerry services from October 11th and that’s that). I’m personally more concerned with the practicalities of ‘what now?’ and how will they sort this out?
On a brand level, we’ve been told we’ll be provided with ‘alternative smartphones’ but that could mean any kind of device… as a valued customer, I expect to be able to choose my replacement and if it’s not allowed to be a Blackberry, it better be something mind-blowingly brilliant.
From a marketers perspective, I guess this is a once in a lifetime opportunity – mobile penetration is approaching 200% in the UAE and BlackBerrys abound… a forced device swap is going to be tough for the consumer (like me) but if I worked for Nokia, Sony Ericsson or Apple, I’d be diverting a large amount of focus (and spend!) towards the Middle East in the next two months – someone needs to make us feel loved – and I’d definitely be manufacturing a fair few additional Arabic-compatible devices…
By Fiona Menzies, General Manager of the Dubai marketing agency, gyro