The BlackBerry 10 launch event will happen this week and RIM is hoping it will jumpstart its flagging business. The new OS should be unveiled in depth and new handsets, too. Launch events only capture the attention of the buying public if they are done well, and here's what RIM needs to do to make sure that happens.
Use the new phone(s) to show off the BlackBerry 10 OS
How well BlackBerry 10 is received by the press and the public will depend on how well RIM shows it off at the event. The only way to do that properly is to give actual demos on a new phone, showing clearly what both the OS and the phone bring to the table.
How well BlackBerry 10 is received by the press and the public will depend on how well RIM shows it off at the event.
If RIM execs aren't good at extended demos, bring out someone who can do the demos to great effect. The demo must go off flawlessly, showing every aspect of operating the phone/OS. Pay particular attention to the Message Hub, the new unified inbox that collects incoming messages of every kind. BlackBerry has always done this well so show why it's even better (and easy) in BlackBerry 10.
In addition to showing off the major features of the OS, show off two or three major apps that must be available at launch. The app ecosystem is a crucial part of any platform and as a brand new one BlackBerry 10 needs several top apps from the get-go. Show how well they work on the new phone and make people want the phone to run those apps. Facebook would be a very good one to have in this demo.
Show a new BlackBerry with a large display
Even if it's not ready to sell at the time of the launch event, RIM needs to be actively working on a phone with a 5-inch display (or bigger) and show it off, however briefly. Choice is good and it goes a long way to demonstrate that a large phone is in the works.
A large screen iPhone is non-existent and this is an area RIM can compete with Apple. Not everyone wants a phone with a 5-inch display or bigger, but large Android handsets already on the market are doing well. RIM needs one to compete with Android and to fill the large iPhone void.
Give a hard shipping date not long after the event
Time after time we see events that build a big buzz for a new gadget and then lose it by giving a fuzzy availability date sometime in the distant future. That's about as effective as showing a fantastic trailer for a new movie and then showing the release date of "Q4 next year".
Launch events that create excitement for a new product completely lose the buzz if they don't give a fixed date for availability that is close to the date of the event. It's even better if the first BlackBerry 10 phone is available at the conclusion of the launch event.
RIM is in trouble and a good reception by the public of both BlackBerry 10 and phones is vital if the company is to turn a bad situation around. Don't make this most basic mistake; proudly announce an exact date at most a week or two away when people can actually get one of these phones.
Launch on major carriers on day one
BlackBerry 10's success will be highly dependent on how well the launch goes in the U.S. The only way to make that happen is to simultaneously have new Blackberry 10 phones available at the major carriers from day one.
It would be good to have top execs from Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Sprint on the stage at the launch event to make it clear that folks can get a BlackBerry 10 phone shortly after the launch event concludes.
RIM absolutely must not make an exclusive deal with one or two of these carriers as is common done in the U.S. BlackBerry 10 and RIM must hit the ground running in the U.S. and a market restricted by a business deal is suicide. Launch everywhere is the only way to go.
The BlackBerry PlayBook has never recovered from the debacle of its launch. Even though RIM is still pushing its tablet it should not be anywhere near the launch event this week.
A BlackBerry 10 tablet can be introduced at some point in the future but don't dilute the excitement of the launch event for the all-important phones by bringing a tablet to the stage. The tech press will crucify RIM no matter how good a new tablet might be, so save it for its own launch event in the future. If a new PlayBook really is good then it would be better shown at its own event down the road, after the phones are doing well.
Consumers first but don't forget the enterprise
The consumer market is important for BlackBerry 10 to hit the ground running so it should be the primary focus of the launch event. RIM could even appeal to the young adult crowd that was a strong segment for past products.
The enterprise segment shouldn't be overlooked at the event, though, as it is still a major portion of RIM's dwindling market share. Demonstrate how BlackBerry Enterprise Server (BES) has evolved with BlackBerry 10 to be a sound technology for corporations. Demonstrate how the new phone(s) will be a good fit for enterprises, leaving no doubt that companies must give BlackBerry a good look.
Build the buzz
Following the steps outlined in this article can go a long way to building big buzz around BlackBerry 10, both the operating system and the phones that run it. The objective is to create a lot of excitement for the new system and to do so by actually showing it off and then put it on sale right away.
At this all-important launch event RIM should avoid using canned video as the vehicle for showing it off. This leads to questions about the readiness of the new platform. Anything less than an exciting launch event is unacceptable and will actually hurt RIM more than help it. And please keep this RIM employee band far away from this event.