Can Research In Motion Come Back from its Failed Retail Strategy?
Less than six years ago, Wireless Giant and Research In Motion (NASDAQ: RIMM) had an idea. Together they would build an empire of BlackBerry retail outlets.
Similar to the Apple Store (NASDAQ: AAPL) concept, BlackBerry stores would focus exclusively on selling products produced by Research In Motion.
This was an unusual initiative for the manufacturer, which had successfully sold BlackBerry handsets through a number of kiosks and stores owned by Sprint (NYSE: S), AT&T (NYSE: T) and Verizon (NYSE: VZ), among other carriers and retailers.
If it had not been for Apple, which completely transformed the cellular device market with the release of the first iPhone, there might be dozens or hundreds of BlackBerry stores all over America.
Without any domestic stores to rely on, BlackBerry devices have been forced to compete against annual iPhone upgrades and an overwhelming number of Android devices. Samsung, which was once famous for its high-end TVs, has risen to the top of smartphone manufacturers. If it weren’t for Nokia (NYSE: NOK), which still produces an enormous amount of cellular devices, Samsung would be the leader of feature (“dumb”) phones as well.
Nokia has ran into some trouble, however. Last year some AT&T stores decided not to carry or promote the Lumia 900.
That event was a clear reminder of the world smartphone makers are competing in — a world that is owned by Android and iOS. This has made it very difficult for newcomers like Microsoft’s (NASDAQ: MSFT) Windows Phone and golden oldies like BlackBerry to gain a significant portion of the market.
Where does this leave Research In Motion? The company has yet to roll out its full marketing campaign for BlackBerry 10, so it is not yet clear how far the device will go. While there is very little interest in the product at the former BlackBerry store in Farmington Hills, MI (the only one of its kind; it closed and reopened as a repair shop last October), BlackBerry 10 has been receiving an excessive amount of attention from the mainstream press.
BlackBerry 10 searches are also heating up on Google (NASDAQ: GOOG). A search for “BlackBerry 10” retrieves more than one billion results. Comparatively, a search for “iOS 6” — the latest version of Apple’s mobile operating system — retrieves only 500 million results. A search for “iOS 7,” which has yet to be announced, currently retrieves 590 million results.
When searching for “Android Jelly Bean,” the latest version of Google’s own mobile OS, Google.com retrieves a mere 63.5 million results.
To be fair, the search for “BlackBerry 10” may also include results for “blackberries,” the nutritious berry that inspired the smartphone’s name. By that same token, a search for “iOS 6” may include results relating to every version if iOS.
On its website, Research In Motion has posted a teaser for BlackBerry 10, promising a product that is “re-designed, re-engineered [and] re-invented.”
Below the list of features, Research In Motion links to stories from Business Insider, Bloomberg, CNET Australia and TechRadar. The company has created an entire page dedicated to media links, particularly those that are filled with praise.
For now, this strategy — along with the promise of a massive comeback — seems to be resonating with investors. Research In Motion is up more than 27 percent year-to-date.
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