At today's (Jan 30th) BlackBerry 10 launch event, CEO Thorsten Heins announced that his company formally known as RIM would now be rebranded as BlackBerry. This announcement is a giant leap for RIM...BlackBerry as its market share has been steadily dwindling since the release of Apple's IPhone 5 and Samsung's S3. This rebranding represents a shift in BlackBerry's market positioning and strategy as it was formally positioned against its competitors as the premier business phone. By offering the most natural typing experience on its QWERTY keyboards and its optimized security settings, BlackBerry phones were the obvious choice for business men, yet the direction of this new brand and vision could be detrimental to what made a BlackBerry appealing to their target market. In addition to rebranding their company, BlackBerry announced that the Z10 ( BlackBerry's fully touch integrated Smart Phone competing directly against the IPhone 5 and Samsung S3) would be ready for a mid march release, however they will be releasing another model of the phone, still equipped with a QWERTY keyboard, in April. Bloggers on the Tech site CNet questioned BlackBerry's motives for delaying the release of the Q10 asking, "why isn't' the keyboard rocking BlackBerry Q10 coming out sooner?" This marketing strategy could possibly be very discouraging for the hardcore BlackBerry enthusiasts. In an attempt to capture the largest possible amount of consumers in the Smartphone market, BlackBerry is failing to address the core fans who built their loyalty around the original interface. The BlackBerry experience has largely been defined by its keyboard feature and this strategy to delay the release of the Q10 largely isolates the BlackBerry users who have stuck with BlackBerry through thick and thin. This rebranding effort is definitely keeping BlackBerry fresh and relevant, though it is very inconsistent with their previous market offering. Maribel Lopez, an analyst for Lopez Research noted, "What BlackBerry is missing is the opportunity to grab the keyboard users that desperately want an alternative to touch screens."
(Maury Rubin,06206586, COMM 335 - 002, brand equity, rebranding, Brand threats, consumer relationship)