I don’t think this iteration of the BlackBerry Playbook will do very well, and I blame RIM’s marketing team.
If you’re not sure what the Playbook is, let me explain â€” and thank you for proving my point. The BlackBerry Playbook is a tablet computer released last week by Research In Motion, the company behind BlackBerry phones. It’s chief competitor in the tablet space is the iPad, followed by the handful of Android tablets that are currently available.
It’s a great device. The hardware is plenty powerful, and the software is certainly good enough for a 1.0 release. It supports native apps written in several languages, and web apps that can take advantage of HTML5 and Adobe Flash.
The Playbook has a lot going for it, but the one thing it’s sorely lacking is a marketing strategy. Without this, it will fail.
People need to know you have a product before they can buy it.
I spend a lot of time on this Internet thing. I read too many blogs, I stalk people on Twitter, I waste time on Facebook. As a tech-savvy 20-something year old, you’d think I would be the target market for a sexy new tablet. But alas! Everything I know about the Playbook, I learned from friends that work at RIM. Is that how the marketing team was expecting to reach me?
What’s their plan for everyone else? Let potential customers hear about it through word of mouth â€” weeks or months after launch â€” if at all?
That doesn’t work anymore. If you’re going to compete with someone like Apple, you have to be loud about what you’re doing.
And that brings us to an even bigger problem with RIM’s silent strategy:
When you don’t make your product sound great, your customers don’t either.
iPad users don’t need to think to explain why they love their iPads. They need only recite whatever Steve Jobs and the rest of the Apple Marketing Messiahs have told them about it.
What are potential Playbook users going to say when they talk to their iOS brethren?
“It has Flash”?
Specs don’t sell products. Potential users want to know which tablet will improve their day-to-day life, not which one has more RAM. And that’s marketing’s job.
We’ve seen this before.
If RIM isn’t convinced that a lack of marketing will kill their product, maybe Google can sway them.
Remember when Google Wave launched? It was going to replace email, and add awesome features, and be everything to everyone!
Not a single person I knew could explain what it was in one sentence. What followed was confusion, lacklustre adoption, and ultimately, termination.
I loved Google Wave. It was a fantastic product that was constantly misunderstood because there was no marketing message to support it.
And as I read article after article, I can’t shake the feeling that I know where the Playbook is headed…
This post also appears on the Macadamian blog.