E-Business and Blackberry

Introduction

Blackberry refers to an end-to-end solution or product developed by Research In Motion Limited which was established in 1984 (Vecillo 2013). Research In Motion is the world leader in the market of wireless communications. Blackberry has undergone various improvements to stay ahead of the competition that characterizes the dynamic technology market. For instance, before the year 2002, Blackberry was a two-way pager with a thumb keyboard. However, Blackberries presently have additional capacities due to the addition of HTML support for browsing web pages and other improved online social networking abilities. These new capabilities have enabled the company to compete with major companies in the technology market such as Apple.

 

Blackberry offers an end-to-end platform of products that comprises of smartphones, tablets, software, as well as unified communications and cooperate applications. The most salient thing concerning the Blackberry devices is that anyone can use it without undergoing intense training. This makes it the most suitable technology for many organizations that attempt to cut down the costs of training their employees upon adopting new technologies. Blackberry also offers simple services such as Blackberry Messenger and Enterprise Mobility Management (EMM), which provides more management control of blackberry devices.

Enterprise Mobility Management, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry Help Blog, and online customer service enables the company to survive the competitive e-business environment. Whereas Blackberry is popular for push mail, many people do not recognize its efficiency in pushing data to applications. According to Morisy (2008), Blackberry provides incredibly strong security and is suitable for medium and large-sized companies.

RIM: Research in Motion

Research In Motion has three levels of support that are available internationally. The three levels that provide customers with a wide range of choices of Blackberry include basic support, advantage support and premium support (Allen & Fjermestad 2001). The basic support deals with technical issues forwarded by customers via telephone. Through the basic support level, customers are able to get quick responses to support all the problems. The advantage support level provides an increased level of support for the Blackberry environment. Premium support is the highest level on which business relies on Blackberry. At this highest level, a Support Account Manager (SAM) is the trusted advisor at RIM.

There is a need for a major revival of the Blackberry business after losing out to competitors such as Apple Inc. This implies that Research In Motion needs to come with a strategy to claim back the lost market share. According to Hansberry (2009), only 20 percent of Blackberry users in the US have the company’s recent phones that are competitive with available Smartphones. The rest of the customers of Research In Motion have devices running on older versions of RIM software. Indeed, some of the devices run on software that is two generations behind. In order to overcome, the company has worked out an upgrade plan with US consumers to increase the purchase of phones running on the Blackberry 7 system that was introduced in August last year.

The extent to which Blackberry is an e-business is significant in claiming back the lost market share. RIM is adopting new e-business strategies that will enable it to acquire a competitive edge over its major rivals such as Apple’s iPhone. The use of Near Field Communication (NFC) technology is one of the strategies that aim at overcoming the competition. Blackberry allows the use of Mobile Payment via NFC payment, which assists in pushing the marketing to the consumer. According to Aaker (2000), consumers’ details can modify a marketing plan for various consumer segments. The use of NFC tags and radio frequencies can assist a buyer to make a payment on his or her phone without using a debit card.

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Porter’s Five Forces

Porter’s five forces is an approach for business strategy development and industry analysis (Kalafaties, Tsogas & Blankson 2000). This framework draws upon the economics of industrial organization (IO). Porter’s five forces include internal rivalry, the threat of new entrants, the threat of substitutes, supplier powers, and buyers’ power.

The internal rivalry is low (Baker 2013). The data and mobile service solutions industry is concentrated and is typified by a few competitors and numerous small competitors. As such, the internal completion is reduced. The industry has grown significantly fast. This implies that firms in this industry, including Blackberry, can keep up with growth in order to maintain their positions and increase their profitability. Companies in this industry compete not only in pricing but also in differentiation. The threat of new entrants into this industry is low.

According to Cohen (2013), the smartphone industry requires huge capital because of the expensive manufacturing equipment and research and development (R&D) costs. This makes it difficult for small companies to enter into this industry. Many of the firms competing with RIM have existed for a very long time. As such, they are not new to the concept of e-Marketing.

The threat of substitutes is low. According to Gardner (2008), tablet devices and smartphones have two chief functions. The first function is to keep people connected. The second function is to access and distribute information. As such, the substitutes that can perform these functions are e-mail, facsimile, instant messaging, mail and social networking among others. Despite being various substitutes, they cannot replace tablet devices or mobile phones. Many people need tablets or smartphones to assist them in staying in touch with their friends, families, and co-workers while they are moving. Indeed, Blackberry has a variety of these substitutes, including internet, social networking, and e-mail.

The power of the supplier is low to moderate (Kotler 2003). This industry has two primary suppliers, which are software developers and hardware manufacturers. The various hardware manufacturers include Texas Instruments, Intel, Marvell, and Qualcomm. These suppliers are significant to Blackberry. Switching from one supplier to another is expensive because it is costly to negotiate contracts with new suppliers. On the other hand, software developers have low bargaining power.

Blackberry’s E-Marketing Analysis

Email marketing or e-Marketing refers to directly marketing a commercial message to a certain group of people through emails (Alessandri & Alessandri 2004). In reality, every email sent to a current or a potential customer might be regarded as email marketing. It often involves using emails to request business, send adverts, or solicit donations or sales. E-marketing is meant to build trust, loyalty, or brand awareness. Of all the marketing techniques available online, e-Marketing is the most valuable. It is cost-effective, measurable, and can be highly targeted. This online marketing technique is the best and capitalizes on the consumers' productive touchpoint with the internet, which is the “inbox.” According to Simies & Dibb (2001), Blackberry can do email marketing to either current customer database or cold lists. Marketing, whether online or offline, cannot be effective without 4Ps. The 4Ps of marketing mix include product, pricing, promotion, and people.

The 4Ps of the Marketing Mix

Product

RIM provides a wide range of handheld devices. Blackberry Smartphone, which is one of their main products, has various features: mobile telephone, push e-mail, text messaging, web browsing, internet faxing, multi-touch interface, and most importantly BlackBerry Messenger (BBM). According to English (2000), Blackberry has the second-largest smartphone market share. The consumer Blackberry Internet service is available in about 91 countries internationally. By September 2011, there were about 70 million users of Blackberry. Blackberry devices use the BBM, the software for sending and receiving instant messages through Blackberry PIN. According to Morisy (2008), BBM is one of the fastest messengers.

Price

Blackberry has advantageously placed its smartphone products in all ranges of price. In addition, these Smartphone products have different features and prices in order to suit the various needs of customers (Schultz 2003). The company has given people the alternative to select from various models according to their budget and needs. However, features such as BBM and Push-Mail are present in brands in order to ensure that consumers across different budget ranges can experience the essence of having a Blackberry.

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Place

About a fifth of the cost of a product is spent on getting the product to the customer. Place mix is concerned with different methods of transporting and storing finished Blackberry before making it available to the consumer (Goi 2009). RIM has an efficient distribution system that ensures that customers get the right product at the right place and time. Customers can make their purchases online as the company also operates in e-business. The product purchased online will be delivered to the customer. The process of delivering the product is facilitated by an efficient distribution system (Goi 2009).

Promotion

The promotion mix is about communicating with customers. Promotion mix provides customers with information that assists them in making the decision to buy a product (Alessandri & Alessandri 2004). Blackberry has segmented its market into two primary segments: enterprise customers and non-enterprise customers. Enterprise customers include cosmopolitan professionals, high-end users and management professionals among others. Blackberry is the leading position in this market segment. On the other hand, non-enterprise customers include students, persons who use Smartphones for entertainment, and youths that will have the financial ability of tomorrow. Enterprise customers are usually individuals aged 25 years and above, where non-enterprise customers are aged between 15 and 25 years. Most of these customers have access to the internet. As such, Blackberry finds it easy to target these consumers through their email and social websites.

Web Design Analysis

Blackberry’s website is a comprehensive e-business tool (Allen & Fjermestad 2001). The site can be differentiated from other websites. This differentiation is important in marketing because it influences the decision of customers whether to buy from the website or not. In the top-left of the webpage, there is the Blackberry logo, which tells the customer that he or she is in the right place. The diagram below shows the homepage of Blackberry. The homepage has been used to advertise the new Blackberry Z10. It is apparent that the homepage is attractive and plays a substantial role in marketing their products.

It is also important to note that it is extremely easy to navigate the site. Blackberry understands that customers usually become frustrated when they cannot locate certain features of the product on their website. As such, they simplified the website to assist their customers to get what they need, to purchase or ask for help. The website has attractive buttons that provide a direct link to what customers need. These buttons have been named according to the service they provide to the user of the website. Some of the buttons include Devices, BBM, Apps & Media, Software, Support, Where to Buy, Business and Developers.

The Devices button leads the user to the various products offered by Blackberry. The software button leads Blackberry users to download the software that is compatible with Blackberry Smartphones. Some of the software includes operating systems the Blackberry Enterprise Service (Gardner 2008). The support button allows customers to post and ask for inquiries. In other words, it serves as an online customer care desk. Customer care services play a significant role in attracting and retaining new customers.

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Business-to-Business Analysis

The primary purpose of B2B marketing is to support the sales effort of Blackberry and improve profitability (Allen & Fjermestad 2001). Business-to-business communication tactics usually include advertising, public relations, trade show support, direct mail, branding, sales collateral and interactive design like search engine optimization and web design. Blackberry advertises its products through social media platforms like Facebook and Tweeter. These platforms enable the company to target its customers effectively. For instance, students and other young consumers can be easily targeted by using Facebook and Tweeter.

Blackberry also organizes trade shows as a way of promoting its products. These trade shows are conducted when the company introduces new operating systems or products (Hansberry 2009). Through trade shows, the company increases consumers’ awareness. Blackberry’s website is interactively designed and easy to navigate. In addition, their website uses an advertising platform. This increases their sales since customers do not have to struggle to locate items, and therefore they make quick online purchases. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is also another strategy used by Blackberry. For instance, in Google’s search engine, the company can be located easily by typing the first few letters.

Social Networking

The effect of social networking on e-business has been of great importance to many multinational companies such as Blackberry. However, many people are learning how to use technology. According to Allen & Fjermestad (2001), social networking has helped online enterprises such as Blackberry to concentrate more on their customers than never before. Companies are realizing what people want and delivering what they need within a shorter period. Blackberry executives strongly believe that they have more control over the reputation of the company over the internet. This is because they can easily shape people’s perceptions of cyberspace. In addition, this is also applicable to how suppliers view the company. The dawn of social networking technology helped Blackberry to learn more concerning the activities of its competitors (Schultz 2003). Customers participating in social networks feel more empowered in the interactions with the e-business.

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The continued growth of this technology is assisting Blackberry to achieve goals, which initially had been almost unachievable. Before the inception of this technology, viral marketing, in which associates and friends recommended services or products to each other, was viewed to be more ideal than a reality. Viral marketing is presently proven marketing. According to Allen & Fjermestad (2001), social networking has assisted Blackberry to reduce the costs related to e-business communication, particularly for their online transactions that maximize their use of technology. Chat rooms, direct messaging, and blogs available in these networks have reduced the cost of communicating within the online business. These savings allow companies to offer their products at cheaper prices. As a result, the demand for their products increases. The ultimate benefit is the increase in profitability.

Conclusion and Recommendations

The extent to which Blackberry is an e-business is significant in claiming back the lost market share. RIM is adopting new e-business strategies that will enable it to acquire a competitive edge over its major rivals such as Apple’s iPhone. Blackberry should come up with a strategy to claim back the lost market share. Blackberry should implement emergent strategies from both the resource-based view and positioning view in order to secure its lost brand. An integrated approach of positioning and the resource-based view can maximize the competencies of Blackberry and enable it to sustain a competitive advantage that necessitates the exploitation of both external and internal firm-specific competencies.

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