If you have been reading RIMarkable for a while you probably are aware that I am a big fan of Verizon. I am absolutely in love with their highspeed EVDO network that seems to have great coverage everywhere. The strength of Verizon’s network is, in my opinion, unmatched in the United States and like many Verizon subscribers, I put the strength of their network before the availability of the newest devices.
The network, however, is where my love affair with Verizon ends and I am willing to bet that this is the case for many a Verizon subscriber. It seems like the company, especially when it comes to their offerings of the latest greatest BlackBerry devices, bets only on the strength of it’s network and the affection that corporate America has for it.
Is the best network enough?
As strong as Verizon’s network is, I wonder (doubt) if their strategy will continue to work for them as the current wave of newly released BlackBerry devices appeal as much to individual consumers as they do to corporate road warriors. Verizon BlackBerry subscribers tend to be very loyal bunch. Much of that loyalty can be directly attributed to the the strength of Verizon’s network. I wonder, however, how much of that loyalty is attributed to the fact that many Verizon BlackBerry subscribers have their bills footed for them by the companies they work for?
The BlackBerry demographic is changing
No longer is the BlackBerry a device that appeals only to traveling sales people, executives, and consultants. The MP3 playing, digital picture taking, consumer BlackBerry models like the BlackBerry Pearl and the BlackBerry Curve appeal to everyone who checks email more than twice a day that uses their mobile phone more than a landline. The problem for Verizon is that these consumer BlackBerry users, especially when footing their BlackBerry bills themselves, are not nearly as willing to sacrifice feature sets on their handsets as they would be if their company were picking up the tab.
Another problem for Verizon and one for Research in Motion is that corporate BlackBerry users that have their BlackBerrys provided and and paid for by their employers are significantly more likely to get a personal device (like the iPhone) on an alternate carrier. This may not be your classic case of customer churn, however, I am sure that Verizon would rather have it’s business customers buy personal phones from Verizon than from its competitors.
What are Verizon’s plans for the BlackBerry?
How does Verizon plan to stay competitive in the BlackBerry market? They still don’t have a BlackBerry with a digital camera. They are notorious for disabling features in their “new” devices that came standard, is some cases, a year previously on their competitors networks and they are the most expensive. From the outside looking in it pretty much looks like Verizon is running business as usual. Has the wireless industry matured to the point thatthat business usual no longer makes the grade?