I was reading a comment from a RIMarkable reader that calls himself EvilHomer about why he feels Verizon will never gain an edge as far as BlackBerry devices are concerned over GSM based carriers. Although I don’t agree with every point, I think he is dead on for the most part.
His post really made me think about just how Verizon has been able to get by with their strategy of releasing new BlackBerry devices almost a year behind their GSM competitors and doing very well for themselves while doing so.
His post also made me think about how this time is coming to an end for Verizon.
Verizon owns the Business BlackBerry market
The majority of BlackBerry users in the United States use their devices for business and the percentage of business users on Verizon is probably the highest of the big 4 carriers. This is because Verizon has more business contracts than the other carriers and also because their personal plans are generally more expensive than the other carriers. They have the most business users and consumers aren’t nearly as quick to pay the premium for their service.
Many business users view their BlackBerry as an email device
Many readers of RIMarkable who are completely nuts over their BlackBerrys won’t feel this way but the overwhelming majority of business BlackBerry users see their BlackBerry as an email device. Next time you are in the airport notice the number of business travelers that have a BlackBerry and a mobile phone. The percentage is going down but there are quite a few business BlackBerry users carrying around a BlackBerry and a mobile phone.
New BlackBerrys don’t do much more than old BlackBerrys
Before you CrackBerry addicts PIN me the 643 things that you can do with your BlackBerry 8700v that you couldn’t do with with your 7250, I admit that I know that this isn’t technically true. The perception among casual business users, however, is that newer devices don’t do so much more that they just have to have them. Truth be told many BlackBerry users couldn’t even tell you which device they have let alone the new device coming out. That is until the BlackBerry Pearl hit the scene.
How does Verizon get by releasing new BlackBerry devices a year after the GSM carriers?
To make a long story short, simply because their corporate customer base hasn’t demanded it. Sure, they’ve complained that they shouldn’t have to wait a year after everyone else to get the Blackberry 8700, but, it is wasn’t like companies were canceling their corporate contracts in droves.
The latest greatest BlackBerry devices just haven’t offered enough new benefits to make Verizon’s corporate customer base revolt if they couldn’t get the device shortly after they launch on GSM carriers.
Times are changing for Verizon
The generation of BlackBerry devices coming out starting with the BlackBerry Pearl changes the entire game for Verizon. Super thin, cool looking, MP3 playing, picture taking BlackBerry devices will appeal to corporate and consumer BlackBerry users alike. The real benefit to corporate users, however, is that their models may allow them to open attachments, edit common file types, and interact in ways not possible with BlackBerry devices before.
These benefits that next-gen BlackBerrys add that will ultimately change the way business users use their devices as compared to the features older models added in addition to sending and receiving email are what will make Verizon start to offer new BlackBerry devices sooner.
Hopefully Verizon has realized that the game has changed for them. Customers who may have complained when a new device came out on a GSM carrier that it shouldn’t take a year for the same device to come out on Verizon but stuck around and waited it out may not complain any longer. They may just switch. I know I would.