No, this isn’t going to be one of those kinds of “Dear John” letters. First off let me thank you for coming in to help save what I feel is a great product. You’ve got your work cut out for you for sure, but you’ve got the support of the entire BlackBerry Nation behind you.
I know you’ve got alot on your plate but I wanted to take this time to bring to your attention what I feel is an untapped potential market for your product. One I feel personally that could be a gold mine for you and for BlackBerry.
The men and women of the military.
I’m not talking about legion of Colonels, Generals and Sergeant Majors toting around their OS 7 devices loaded down with all kinds of DoD security protocols to keep the bad guys from reading the email confirmations of their next tee time. I’m talking about the rank and file folks, like me.
Yes I’m a soldier. And like a lot of soldiers I’m a gadget guy. iPods, smart phones game consoles, computers, tablets got them all. A lot of us do. And a lot of us cut our teeth on BlackBerry products when the smart phone craze was in its infancy of leaving the board room and becoming the defacto choice of mobile phones for everyone.
It wasn’t that long ago that in my office there was one Windows phone and two iPhones. The rest of us had some kind of BlackBerry device in our hands, and we loved them.
But times change and now isn’t the place to rehash how iPhone and Android raced past BlackBerry in terms of operating system and user base. Suffice to say the numbers in my current office have flipped and I’m the only one using a BB 10 device as my personal phone.
That doesn’t mean things can’t change. There are ways to appeal to the soldiers through ad buys and working with the people that have designed apps specifically for soldiers (yes they exist) and get “Made for BlackBerry”versions of them. Personally I’d start with the AFN 360 and Army APFT (Army Physical Fitness Test) apps that are already available on the iPhone and Android app stores.and are linked on official .mil web pages too. No reason they shouldn’t reside in BlackBerry World as well. Make useful apps available to the soldier, more importantly let them know they are available and suddenly you’ve got people taking a look at your devices that might not have before.
Bring Your Own Device. Yes BYOD is coming (albeit slowly) to the Department of Defense. OS/BES10 already has the best option baked in for this coming evolution of smart phone use. I’ve read the published requirements for what’s going to have to happen to someone’s Android or iPhone in order to allow it onto the DoD network (and no I’m not pulling a Snowden it’s freely available online) and it’s not pretty, at least if you want to be one of the testers. What better way to market your product to those of us in uniform than to appeal to the fact that if we have a BlackBerry device powered by OS 10 the switch between work and personal is just a finger swipe away? And then point out that BlackBerry, and OS 10 powered devices are the only one that can offer this ease of use. Need more convincing? There is this quote from none other than the President of the United States just yesterday as reported by Yahoo News; "I'm not allowed for security reasons to have an iPhone," BOOM! The marketing department should be all over that when they get to work this morning.
Smartphone’s have become as much a part of the battlefield as the M-16. Soldiers are carrying their own unlocked devices down range and buying a paygo chip to stay in contact with family back at home station and the military is adapting them via apps to become a tool on the battlefield as well. There is no reason why that device the soldiers have in their hands shouldn’t have the BlackBerry logo on it.
It won’t be an overnight re-conversion. I’m too much of a realist to think that could be possible. But you’re bringing a fresh eye to everything in Waterloo and I believe a fresh approach should be brought to this arena too. Work with the Army and Air Force Exchange Service to get the authorized cell phone retailers inside every PX in the world to promote the BlackBerry line, not just put it on the shelf as an afterthought. Run advertising in the Military Times publications and in Stars and Stripes. Get soldiers thinking about your product line when it comes time to select a new phone. You’ve got to spend some money to make some money, the company has just received a billion dollar infusion of cash and there is untapped money making potential in getting OS 10 devices in the hands of people like me.
So what do you say? Wanna give us a try? I’m hoping the answer is yes.