T-Mobile's BlackBerry Burial
NEW YORK ( MainStreet) "Ill-conceived." "Inappropriate."
Those are just some of the heated comments from BlackBerry CEO John Chen as he fumed about the latest promotion by number four cell carrier T-Mobile that has offered at least some Blackberry toting users the opportunity to upgrade to iPhone 5S, for $500, a hefty $150 discount from the regular selling price. A "great offer for BlackBerry customers," T-Mo said in its email.
For many consumers that iPhone 5S can be had with no money down and an interest free two-year loan.
"We are outraged," Chen blogged.
Chen went on: "to T-Mobile, I would like to remind you that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile. I hope we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again."
Question: if you had a Blackberry, would you take T-Mo up on this offer?
At least some BlackBerry users - fearing that T-Mobile is about to pull the plug on their devices - expressed loud anger. They were boisterous enough that T-Mo's usually pugnacious CEO John Legere meekly tweeted, "BlackBerry users, I'm hearing you loud and clear. Let me work with the team and get back with you."
He later tweeted: "BlackBerry follow up- We give our customers choices, but you don't have to give up your #loyalty. We will continue to support."
That backpedaling by Legere - who won headlines a few months ago for crashing an AT&T party at the Consumer Electronics Show wearing his trademark pink T-shirt - has not fully persuaded BlackBerry devotees that T-Mo will indeed continue to support their devices and their anger continues to flame on the Internet.
Case in point: IT consultant Jaylen Bledsoe wrote in an email to me, "I think the offer from T-Mobile was the worst possible thing a major US carrier could do to their users. With Blackberry still having a broad name among most business users, it was highly inappropriate for T-mobile to make this offer."
Angela Jones, CEO of Super Woman Productions and Publishing in Detroit, said similar: "As much as I respect T-Mobile for wanting to remain competitive against other mobile carriers, as a Blackberry user this shows a lack of faith in RIM to me. I am a Blackberry user on T-Mobile's network. I've been using Blackberry since 2008."
Bottomline for Jones: T-Mo's support for Blackberry is at best lukewarm.
Blackberry users are in pain, no doubt about it, but there also is this reality: BlackBerry is fast marching to extinction. The most recent marketshare numbers, from researchers IDC reporting on Q3 2013, show Blackberry tumbling to 1.7% of the global market, down from 4.1% in the same quarter of 2012.