• Opinion: RIM's Secret Weapon Could Be Its BlackBerry Advocates

    Research In Motion has been doing a tremendous job getting people, developers and consumers alike, excited for BlackBerry 10. From introducing the first BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha with a few cool demos at BlackBerry World 2012 in Orlando, to giving out more dev tools, the BB10 UI and a new Dev Alpha B in San Jose at BlackBerry Jam Americas, the hype within the BlackBerry community is pretty high right now.

    I was fortunate enough to receive a Dev Alpha B at BlackBerry Jam Americas 2012 and it has truly changed the way I look at BlackBerry 10. I really do understand why RIM has worked so hard to be able to get these devices in the hands of experienced and novice developers alike. After talking with a few friends of mine in BBM group, one of them came up with an interesting idea that I really think RIM should examine more closely.

    I do believe that, as much as developers’ apps are essential to success of BB10, they aren’t the only ones RIM should be focused on prior to launch with some of these prototype BB10 devices. A select number of “BlackBerry advocates” should also be seeded BlackBerry 10 Dev Alpha Bs so they too can help spread the word of what’s to come in the near future.

    Now, first of all, when I say “BlackBerry advocates” I’m not talking about someone that just loves their BlackBerry and hates iPhones and Android devices. I’m not talking about someone that doesn’t have issues with their device because they know a few cool tricks, but instead, I’m referring to those that proactively go out and help others with their devices. People that spend countless hours on forums, social media and other means sharing their knowledge selflessly with others. People that you could pretty much say work as RIM spokespeople without the check or title. Beyond fans, BlackBerry ambassadors. They aren’t tied to a specific blog or website, they just love what they do and love to share it.

    Why should RIM look at these super advocates under a special light?

    These BlackBerry ambassadors are known by carrier reps at their local malls or stores. Their friends and family know the latest details, stories, or leaks about BlackBerry shortly after it happens because these ambassadors are usually talking about them. They have been preaching BlackBerry 10 since it was called BBX. True, they could learn to develop a simple HTML5 app, submit it to App World, and qualify for a Dev Alpha B. However, they’re instead scouring forums assisting people with their 8520 issues, or politely explaining to confused users why the new PlayBook OS 2.1 didn’t restore their calendar and why RIM hasn’t pulled the update even though they’re aware of the issue. They’re not afraid to leave comments and feedback on sites with tasteless BlackBerry bashing posts or help explain misnomers about RIM “going bankrupt” to someone they may meet somewhere. These ambassadors go to bat for BlackBerry on countless occasions.

    To be fair, RIM has been improving the relationship and connection it shares with BlackBerry fans and has proven that it does appreciate their excitement, loyalty and help. Since January, the BlackBerry Fan of the Month has been a monthly recognition given to hardcore, BlackBerry power users that have gone out of their way to represent #TeamBlackBerry the best. It’s a fantastic idea and one that I hope continues for a very long time. They have also hooked up some Super Users on the official BlackBerry support forums with passes to BlackBerry World and other goodies, which I know they are extremely appreciative for.

    More can be done though. More that could ultimately help RIM. For example, 50 devices spread out among BlackBerry Support Forums, Beta Zone Forums Super Users, BlackBerry Fans of the Month; etc could go a long way towards creating even more hype for BlackBerry 10. You know they aren’t going to keep quiet about what they have on-hand. When I got back from San Jose, the first thing I did was go to the AT&T store and show the guys that had been telling me “BlackBerry was dead,” what I could do that with a prototype. BlackBerry 10 videos and pictures are cool and from personal experience showing them off has garnered positive reactions as well, but it pales in comparison to the reactions I’ve gotten showing off what the Dev Alpha B can do in person.

    Obviously, the BlackBerry Dev Alphas are currently limited in what they can do. It’s not a complete BlackBerry 10 experience which is why seeding these devices with influential BlackBerry ambassadors pre-launch may not possible. However at launch, hype will still need to be made. This is where marketing could come into play as well and potentially explore an insanely good investment for RIM.

    Think about it RIM.

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