Ever since BlackBerry announced they'd be taking a step out of the consumer market, everyone wondered who they'd be selling smartphones to, or who their target market would be. According to that same press release, the company's focus would shift entirely to enterprise and to "prosumers." While some of us have struggled to understand exactly who they're talking exactly about, many have taken to point out the literal definitions of the word "prosumer." And yes, that definitely works, but there is a need to be a bit more specific.
On Friday, a couple of BlackBerry execs gave us this more specific idea of what exactly a prosumer is in an interview with CTV news in Canada. Michael Clewley, director of handheld software product management at BlackBerry, had this to say about prosumers [italics is ours],
"Their sole purpose is that this is primarily a communications device and a productivity machine."
"While applications are good to have in some respects they're not primary or sometimes even secondary for that type of user. And if they do use applications they're using very targeted specific applications, they're not spending a lot of time in the storefront browsing for the latest or greatest or trying to find out what's hot and stuff like that. They're going to look for apps that help get the job done for them."
There you have it. Prosumers are those that will use their BlackBerry devices mainly as a communications, and productivity tool. Prosumers depend on their BlackBerry devices to get stuff done in the work environment. On the other hand, if you are into the latest and greatest apps, and that's your priority, you do not fall into this definition of a prosumer, according to BlackBerry.
Clewley was quick to add that BlackBerry has not given up on snatching these tops apps though, like Instagram, Vine, Netflix, Spotify, Rdio, among others. However, by his own definition, a prosumer should probably not expect to have these apps on BlackBerry 10. If they come down the line, awesome, but don't hold your breath.
We've touched on this prosumer definition quite a few times over the last few weeks. We discussed it at length on that one epic multi-site podcast early last month, and most of us agreed the average fan, that doesn't use their BlackBerry on a BES, is probably not BlackBerry's target audience. All of us that have been dying for certain apps to come to the platform, and have to use other mobile OSes to get them, are not BlackBerry's target audience. It seems now that has been confirmed.
Another exec, Todd Wood, senior vice president of design, added another dimension to the prosumer definition by including the producer angle, not just the professional side.
"They create more content than they consume, in most cases, and arguably that was the original definition of prosumer."
Content creators are also a big focus for BlackBerry. Unfortunately though, in 2013, apps are a huge part of content creation for those in mobile, and when BlackBerry doesn't have those, it's the chicken and the egg dilemma all over again. Apps like Facebook, and Twitter are great for interaction/and content creation, but even the social aspect is greatly missing on BB10 still.
Celebrities, and pop culture icons have been a backbone of BlackBerry's big name user base over the past years. Recently, these celebrities have expanded their social outreach, and have had to either get a secondary smartphone, or simply ditch their BlackBerry device completely, to get access to these social networking apps that they simply cannot get on BlackBerry 10 (Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Vine, and Google+ are just some examples of social/content creation apps that BlackBerry 10 does not have).
We're not even including the lack of music creation, video editing, blogging, or other art-related apps that just aren't there either for content creators.
How can you not need to have the latest, and greatest apps on your smartphone, but still be a content creator for the masses that do use them?
BlackBerry has a tough battle ahead of it to even get these prosumers, and content creators on board. I'm very happy to hear they aren't giving up on chasing these big name apps, and will continue to strive to get them as they are essential to big time content creators.
The word "prosumer" was coined in the 80's, and has evolved over time. In the last few years, Twitter brought us micro-blogging, and Instagram made everyone think they're photographers, and the line between consumer, and prosumer has been blurred even more. It'll be interesting to see how BlackBerry markets to these prosumers specifically. Will there be no in-carrier store smartphone availability, and have them be only online? No TV ads, and instead more of a focused marketing campaign? Time will tell, but for now, everyone has a clear idea in their head whether they are prosumers, or not. Are you?