RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

Summary: Following a stampede during a promo event in November, RIM's Indonesian chief is suspected of negligence, and could face up to nine months in jail.


Research in Motion's chief executive in Indonesia, Andrew Cobham, has been named as a suspect in last month's BlackBerry promotion disaster, which left dozens injured and some requiring medical assistance.

More than 40 people were injured at the promotional event on November 25th, and 20 were knocked unconscious when the event turned into a stampede.

Indonesian police named three more suspects alongside Cobham on Monday, including British security consultant Terry Burkey. The four are being suspected of negligence and could face nine months in prison.

The stampede happened during a special promotional offer of the new BlackBerry Bold 9790, after RIM announced that they would be selling a thousand of the new phones for half the usual price.

At least five times that amount showed up for the event. Despite efforts to give bracelets to the first thousand arrivals, organisers were unable to control the crowd. In the end desperate fans surged the barriers, and around 300 police and security personnel were required to shut the event down.

A ministry spokesman, Gatot Dewa, said that the company had been warned that the event could be dangerous.

He said: "A company should not promote it's products without considering safety. We already knew how big this could be, considering Indonesia is one of BlackBerry's biggest markets".

RIM has had a lot of success with the BlackBerry in Indonesia, with 6 million users in the region making the smartphone the market leader.

Considering the annual mad crush we saw in America during Black Friday, it seems that companies should be taking precautions when organising their promotional events. When you're selling something as popular as the BlackBerry is in Indonesia, a huge amount of interest should be expected.


Topics: Security, Mobility, BlackBerry

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  • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

    "Hana is three things; small, British and unnecessarily preoccupied with grammar."

    The best, most amusing biography I've ever read:) I can empathise with two of your qualities and admire the other. Now I'm going to read your article...
    Graham Ellison
  • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

    November 25th occurs the day before "Black Friday" in America - so the Indonesian event was a percursor to the frenzy seen in America. Next time though....
  • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

    1) you wouldn't see this happen in japan 2) sounds like a who concert.
  • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

    Yawn.... Who cares, if this is all the authorities have time for....let them have at it.....
    Kia Ora IV
    • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

      @Kia Ora IV Is that really the healthy way to look at it? In the US and UK where I have direct experience, the culture of responsibility is nonexistent. The only exception to this seems to be where a national media successfully campaigns for official action, and politicians decide to order a response, as damage limitation - in respect to the way the situation embarrasses them, and/or affects their popularity.

      Now, if you're happy with this, then fine. But if you're affected by such a situation one day, I suspect that your opinion might change. And that's the philosophical issue here.

      Voltaire said: "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it."

      Not an easy stance to take. But unless you're prone to burying your head in the sand, apathetic or just plain short sighted and narrow-minded all at the same time, it's the only decent approach for a modern evolved society to take.

      Having said all that, this is definitely not how I would describe Indonesia. My disclaimer is that I've never been to Indonesia, nor do I yearn to go. But everything I've read and seen confirms not only my suspicions that it is a thoroughly corrupt system with draconian laws - which seem to be applied very selectively. The exploitation of children and young people seems to be endemic, and the way foreigners are treated when caught in possession of drugs - LEAVING the country [where those drugs were produced and traded by Indonesians...] simply defies credibility.

      So I don't really want to speculate on the Indonesian criminal cases now pending. But please consider that if people have been encouraged to believe they can save 50% on the purchase price of any product, the company that made that offer is, inevitably, in some way responsible.

      I suspect this was a PR operation designed to create an impression of demand, by encouraging lines of customers to form for the world's press to witness. It's precisely what a company as desperate as RIM would do. "Look, we're as popular as Apple!" No, everyone likes a bargain. And more importantly, the campaign highlighted another important fact: It identified the correct retail price for a BlackBerry Bold 9790...!
      Graham Ellison
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Graham Ellison - Go get laid and quit reading Voltaire. He is for High School kids.
      • So, why write a whole book just to say, RIM screwed up and

        their smartphones are not as popular as their stunt was meant to convey?

        I'll bet most people would have been content just to hear your ending comments, and all the rest was throwaway rhetoric.
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Graham Ellison Your disclaimer on the other hand seems to claim that you know /lots/ about Indonesia - which you sadly don't. It is by far the most democratic country in South East Asia, and is one of the most vibrant country in terms of Internet and mobile growth. We have problems with corruption, lots of it, but we do have transparency and free press. Draconian law or not, it has no bearing with this story and your orientalist views.
  • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

    I'm conflicted and genuinely confused, distressed and rather suspicious - all at the same time here.

    Firstly, I have no sympathy for RIM as a company. I think it's so utterly flawed as a concept that they deserve to continue spiralling down the drain of their own creation. They are the so addicted to corporate customers, they have no interest in the real user experience.

    Their devices are awful. And even though I've genuinely reviewed Blackberries at each upgrade stage - prior to the launch of the iPhone, I have rejected them all - every time, on the basis of their design, interface and entire concept.

    Their inability to recognise the inadequacies of their products and refusal to listen to users, or to innovate in the face of competition, is proof that they are lead by fools. They deserve to fail.

    So, given all the above, I cannot understand how, in the iPhone and genuine smartphone era, how any Blackberry can be regarded as desirable - in any culture. I always understood Indonesia to be a fairly tragic case on many levels. But discovering that it is so culturally moribund that people could "stampede" at a Blackberry promotion leaves me deeply distressed.

    But my instinct is to ask why? Why would this happen? I'm also mindful that some people could have possibly gained from an Apple style effect at that event. But because this matter is now subject to Indonesia's infamously draconian legal process, I'm reluctant to speculate who that might be.

    We know 5 things for sure:

    The event ultimately failed, and did a lot more damage to RIM's reputation.

    If this had happened in a western city, RIM would be dead already.

    Ordinary people were unnecessarily seriously injured at a corporate promotional event.

    Someone IS ultimately responsible.

    The email trail will be the most telling part of the evidence.
    Graham Ellison
    • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

      @Graham Ellison
      These are if course, just your opinions, and like everyone else, you are entitled to have one. First you threaten to file a complaint, and then you run down the company? BTW, who or what, do you do your reviews for? Apple?
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Franciscus101 Unless you are the person who made the comment that affected me, or connected with that person, I have nothing to say on the matter. However, if English is your first language, and you've read both comments, the implications should be obvious.

        My opinion of RIM is based entirely on being offered their products for more than 10 years as both business and personal solutions, and found every one of them tho be inadequate.

        I'm extremely interested and involved in studying and designing business models. What that means is I've developed some, and have spent an inordinate amount of time studying others in order to do so. This process has thrown up some inevitable truths, some of which serve to form my opinions expressed here.

        RIM's business model is irrevocably flawed, as is Nokia's. The reasons are actually obvious. They have both rested on their laurels as their market has evolved, whilst pretending it hasn't, and all the time failing to listen to their customers.

        My interest in Apple is that I saw my first reaction to an Apple product in 1985, and have deployed their solutions in my business and private life since the early '90s. I'm not a journalist, but if Apple, or any other company offered to pay me to blog for them or against another company [as Microsoft actually allegedly do], I would decline and then blog about it.

        So I write for me. But I also write for anyone capable of getting beyond my strident style, to work out that I do so from experience, and say what I mean and I mean what I say - without fear or favour.
        Graham Ellison
      • G. Ellison: So, basically, you are posting to express your love for Apple

        and its products, while claiming to not be a paid advocate.<br><br>No matter how you paint it, you still come across as an arrogant shill for Apple.
    • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

      @Graham Ellison

      Thought the whole incident with that comment was just epic trolling. Of course, you are probably a troll, so... best left alone.
    • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

      @Graham Ellison <br><br>To all of you who put RIM down: There is ABSOLUTELY NO OTHER WORLDWIDE EMAIL SERVICE like the one Blackberry gives. Once you have a Global Plan from your local ISP (wherever that is) you get access to your mail and internet WHEREVER there is (at least) GPRS mobile services. That means even in the smallest village in India or Africa. NOBODY can beat that. If you have not traveled to rural Asia or Africa you have no idea what a village is like. I was travelling in a remote mountainous forest area by bus in South India, and I was able to answer my mail 3 years ago. As of Now, it is still not possible by any other brand, because you have to get a local SIM otherwise you end up paying upto a 1000$ a week in roaming fees.
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @ADboy Okay, I'll grant you that is an advantage. There are some others that are very useful to terrorists too, but I'll leave that for another day.

        But if RIM are so good, why are they losing so much value? Their stock price is currently the lowest it's been since 2004. Their value has has dropped 75% this year! In the final equation, it doesn't matter how good their email is if they can't afford to do R&D.

        And that playbook is a disaster. Whoever proposed that should be fired.
        Graham Ellison
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Graham Ellison
        I actually don't like Blackberry devices either, never have, but your logic is flawed. According to your reasoning, something that is not successful, is rubbish and something successful is obviously the best. I hate to tell you, that this is simply not true.

        Take music for example. There is no opinion on whether the Backstreet Boys are a better band than Led Zeppelin. Oh you CAN believe whatever you want, but in the end your belief is simply not true.

        Now, phones - let's not forget that both Nokia and RIM have been HUGELY successful. In fact, so were Windows Mobile devices to a lesser extent. The apple cart was upset by, well, Apple. People want Apple the way they want Armani. It has nothing to do with quality or reason - it is a desirable brand.

        To me the iPhone design is simplistic, boring and deficient and not even remotely useful - certainly a regression rather than progress. I prefer the Nokia or Windows Mobile way of doing things any day. I genuinely believe that MS and Nokia did not see it coming, because the iPhone being at best, a turd of a device, they simply thought it would blow over. But, the herd has spoken and now we are stuck with the huge drifts of turd devices all around us.

        Thus we come back to the music analogy really....
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Traxxion I'm going to work backwards through your occasionally interesting post, because it's largely full of backwards thinking. Although you have at least engaged your brain, you've done so with bias against a phenomenon you've failed to understand.

        Music is a matter of taste. Most people have no taste. Ergo crap music is popular with most people - the herd. Music is owned and consumed audibly in accordance with mood, not owned and displayed as one would clothes or cars or phones. Music is also most often group specific. Phones are required and used by all ages and social groups. So your music analogy falls on its face - because it's not relevant to this subject.

        What you see as simplistic in the iPhone is Apple's way of demystifying the navigation process through the user interface. Now, I regard this as a very very good thing for many reasons, not least because it speeds up the process. Not having to remember how to do something - for it to be totally intuitive is a massive bonus. It's akin to being able to find my way home in the dark.

        I find it impossible to understand how anyone could fail to recognise that, especially when every other mobile phone manufacturer on the planet has subsequently attempted to copy Apple.

        You say you "genuinely believe that MS and Nokia did not see it coming, because the iPhone being at best, a turd of a device, they simply thought it would blow over." And here you've identified the cause of your problem: Like Ballmer and his myopic opposite numbers at Nokia and RIM, you failed to recognise the paradigm shift that iPhone represented. That's a sure sign of bad judgement. But worse than Ballmer etc, you still don't get it. That's a sure sign of catastrophically bad judgement.

        So, iPhone appeals to all ages and social groups because it IS aspirational, but also because it answers a human need for a device that does not demand the user WORKS, just to make it WORK.

        The opposites to Apple and iPhone are Nokia and RIM and a bunch of devices who's names no-one can remember. Therefore you've also failed to understand my reasoning re: success and quality. It's not as you suggest: "something that is not successful, is rubbish and something successful is obviously the best." It's the other way around. Something that is rubbish is not successful, and something is good is obviously successful. I used RIM's stock price to demonstrate that a company not worth trading in is being rejected by investors. The same applies to Nokia.

        And finally, this is happening for the very reason you highlighted: RIM failed to evolve - even after it was obvious to everyone and his dog that the way the iPhone worked was the future. But history is littered with examples of incumbents failing to contribute and take part in the next stage of a business evolution. So yes, "both Nokia and RIM have been HUGELY successful". The important phrase there is: "have been". History is not a reliable indicator of future performance. It never has been.
        Graham Ellison
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @ADboy <br>Unfortunately the advantages you tout are meaningful to less than .001% of the user base. I would be very hard pressed to find anyone in my extensive peer group who would view having access to his cell phone in a rural Asia village as a compelling reason to buy. <br><br>To some people who live in hilly back rural areas of 3rd world nations, a mule is the best way to travel but do you own a car or a mule?
    • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

      @Graham Ellison

      oooh, A can of worms, huh?

      Well, lets begin with a bit of my background: I am Indonesian, I am using maybe my 5th version of a blackberry, my company helps rolls out the first blackberry (for ourselves) in Indonesia in 2005, I saw it took off, (heck, exploded is more like it) here, and I get my mother in law her first last year.

      Having said all that, yeah, RIM failed to compete big time. Its on its last breath. But the event at PP was NOT a publicity stunt, but a reflection on how unprepared they are at what they're offering.

      In Indonesia, Blackberry is still "THE" in phone. (for now). The BB messenger creates a closed loop where all your friends belong to, and if you're not in it, your're not cool. Ask any indonesian. And among the inner circle of Jakarta's elite, and the people that gravitate around them, and those that gravitate around those people, they all carry a blackberry. I have 260 bbm contact in mine, and I hate giving people my PIN.

      So when a $250 top of the line BB shows up, you can imagine what happened. (we usually buy ours at $400-$600). Pacific Place is not a rundown middle class mall, it is THE Rodeo Drive Mall. Samsung did the same thing with their Galaxy tab, with manageable success. RIM just completely misjudge the response, PLUS their event coordinator just didn't handle it well.

      Indonesia is a very chatty nation. Jakarta is the world's #1 twitter city. (New York is #14, if I recall). And our preferred "elite chat" is BBM.

      Incidentally, yes, we have heard of Apple iphone and ipad. But there is 10 BB for each 1 iphone (and each of those owner also carry a BB). and 2 Samsung GalaxyTab for every 1 ipad.

      In this case, RIM must be, to whatever appropriate degree, held responsible for the damages, if only so that noone should believe that they can do this without being aware of the consequences. Consumer protection is one thing that Indonesia is not good at, so please appreciate it.

      As for Blackberry, I bought it and keep buying it as it is THE ABSOLUTE BEST in email device thus far. Especially in the heavily congested data bandwidth environment such as Jakarta, but yeah, it sucks as a phone (voice quality). its app (BBM, I think) hangs my BB once or twice a day. Its battery life is horrible. It can't act as a hotspot. So my friends and I are all in agreement. This may be the last blackberry we owned and we're all installing WhatsApp to free ourselves from BBM. and hopefully someone (Android?) can do it better soon.
      • RE: RIM executive suspect in Indonesia's BlackBerry stampede

        @Donald1x Yours is the most interesting, balanced, informative, and most relevant response to this article. I've learned a great deal of useful information about Blackberries, RIM and Indonesia, as well as how they relate to each other.

        I am however left feeling a little sorry for you that you're so badly served by your favourite mobile phone provider.

        The one thing I have to disagree with is your contention that it wasn't a publicity stunt. I have a great deal of insight into the workings of these companies, and I can assure you that any benefit RIM [or any company] might derive from selling 1000 CURRENT devices at the massive discount price of 50%, is far outweighed by the potential publicity from a news story of lines of customers - superficially similar to those outside Apple stores.

        Very specifically, selling 1000 devices at a loss - unless there is an urgent accounting need to clear inventory, is just a loss maker. End of.

        But, if as you say, Indonesian society holds the Blackberry in such high esteem, the upside of the publicity stunt that artificially creates an Apple style scenario, is potentially massive - in that it could start a wave of similar situations throughout the country - without even bothering to offer the discount!

        Three things rule the world: Sex, money and fear. Fear rules the three. Everyone wants sex. Everyone needs money. Every business needs a constant supply of more money. Everyone and every business is afraid of not having enough money. The most dangerous thing, after a kid with a gun, is a business who's bosses are afraid. This most accurately describes RIM today.

        And a quick psychological note on that one. People naturally express dislike of powerful companies, because they fear the control they exert. That seems logical, and it is - to the extent that it usually effects our lives. What we're very bad at fearing is the rare event - the least likely event scenario. We simply lack the capacity to map it - to imagine it. Therefore we don't plan for it, and have difficulty recognising when we're hit by one.
        Graham Ellison