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4/11/2013
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BlackBerry Who? BB10 Has U.S. Image Problem

83% of Americans don't even know about BlackBerry 10, and 72% report they'd "never" buy a BlackBerry, according to new research.

BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
BlackBerry 10: Visual Tour Of Smartphones, OS
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Separate polls conducted in recent days show the U.S. buying public is largely unaware of or ambivalent toward BlackBerry 10. Both MKM Partners and Raymond James sought to determine the public's opinion about BlackBerry 10 and came away with discouraging feedback.

MKM Partners asked 1,500 Americans a range of questions about smartphones, operating systems, manufacturers and their buying preferences. About half of the respondents already owned a smartphone, of which 33% said they owned an iPhone, 28.2% said they owned a Samsung, 9.9% owned an LG, 9.3% owned an HTC, 9.3% owned a Motorola, and 3.4% owned a BlackBerry.

The most alarming response came in answer to the question: "Are you aware that BlackBerry 10 was launched in Canada and Europe in late January 2013?" MKM says 82.6% said "no." In other words, only about one in six Americans has a clue that BlackBerry 10 even exists. (Nice job with the marketing materials, BlackBerry, AT&T and Verizon.)

[ HTC is pinning its smartphone hopes on Facebook. Read Facebook Home + HTC First: Not About Hardware. ]

To be fair, it is worth pointing out that 60.5% of respondents also said "no" when asked about Windows Phone 8.

When asked, "Are you interested in, or at all curious about, BlackBerry or Windows Phone?" 68% said "no" for BlackBerry, and 63.9% said "no" for Windows Phone.

When asked what brand smartphone they intended to purchase next, 44.5% of respondents said they weren't sure; but 19.6% said a Samsung smartphone, 17.7% said an Apple smartphone, 5.9% said a BlackBerry smartphone, and 4.4% said a Motorola smartphone.

MKM's results don't paint a very good picture for BlackBerry's comeback hopes, and those generated by Raymond James aren't any better.

Rather than ask people what phones they want to buy, James asked them what phones they don't want to buy. The answer shows that consumers continue to favor devices running Apple's and Google's operating systems. The percentage of respondents who do not want to purchase a BlackBerry amounted to a monstrous 71.4%. Fewer people showed a dislike for Android, 31.3%, and for iOS, 19.7%.

These rotten poll numbers raise some red flags and several questions, the most prominent of which is, what is BlackBerry going to do about this?

Obviously BlackBerry and its carrier partners -- in the U.S., that's AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile USA and Verizon Wireless -- need to work harder to raise awareness of BlackBerry 10 in general and the Z10 and Q10 smartphones in particular. Marketing would help, be it TV commercials, print ads or in-store placards. More importantly, BlackBerry needs to make sure that the front-line employees at retail stores are trained on BlackBerry 10 and can explain it well to consumers. If retail store reps only point customers toward Android smartphones or the iPhone, BlackBerry 10 -- and Windows Phone -- don't stand much of a chance.

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