Making BlackBerry cool again -- a big task

Marketing matters as much as technology for Z10

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Sprint plans to carry only the Q10 and will likely start selling the device sometime later this year. For its part, T-Mobile will carry both devices but hasn't announced pricing or availability.

Independent retailer Solavei on Monday announced a no-contract Z10 for $689 through GSM Nation; that's down from the $999 price tag it announced in February.

Several analysts were curious as to how BlackBerry intends to market the Z10 in the U.S. and follow up on its Super Bowl ad promoting the BlackBerry brand.

BlackBerry said it is already marketing the Z10 in the U.S. along the lines of its global "Keep Moving" campaign announced in February. Plans include 20-, 30- and 60-second TV commercials to illustrate "the Keep Moving promise in a creative way, bringing the concept of flowing through life with BlackBerry 10," according to a spokeswoman for BlackBerry, although it isn't clear when or where those ads will appear. Print and other advertising will follow that Keep Moving theme. BlackBerry first ran a 60-second Keep Moving commercial in Canada. The company has also posted a 3 minute, 34 second Keep Moving ad on YouTube that shows a young woman using a Z10 to communicate wirelessly about a construction project.

When asked about how BlackBerry intends to specifically market the Z10 for workers in BYOD settings, a spokeswoman noted that 4,200 businesses and government customers in North America have been testing BB 10 with BES 10, more than double the number of just a month ago. Many companies have been interested in BlackBerry Balance, which sets up a dual personality to separate work from personal day on a Z10 when used with the BES 10 server, she said.

BlackBerry also has created a website to help users explore BlackBerry 10 features, including interface features called Flow and Hub. Singer Alicia Keys has been appointed global creative director to help show what BlackBerry 10 can do, the spokeswoman said.

However ambitious BlackBerry's plans for marketing the Z10 may be, the device's appeal to employees of companies with BYOD policies who have already jumped to the iPhone or to Android devices will be limited, said Jack Gold an analyst at J. Gold Associates. "I do think there will be strong appeal to BlackBerry users who were waiting for the new devices," Gold said, "although I think many will wait for the Q10 qwerty device in a few weeks."

Several analysts said they are not sure how large that group of qwerty fans might be. Still, Burden said that BlackBerry still must "stop marketing BlackBerry to IT guys and start making BlackBerry cool again."

Burden added: "A message to marketing is that you don't want users to pull a BlackBerry out of their pockets and step to the side so that nobody sees them use it in case they are ridiculed and people say, 'Are you still using a BlackBerry?' That's a condemning thing and difficult to turn around."

Matt Hamblen covers mobile and wireless, smartphones and other handhelds, and wireless networking for Computerworld. Follow Matt on Twitter at @matthamblen, or subscribe to Matt's RSS feed. His email address is mhamblen@computerworld.com.

See more by Matt Hamblen on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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