With the launch of the Z30 today in Canada we decided to take it to the street for some first hand observations on the state of BlackBerry in Laval,Québec. Centre Laval was visited, a shopping center, close to a high traffic corridor with several highways nearby providing easy access. Here is what we heard and saw:
There are no more Z10 cell phones in inventory. Not likely to get anymore. There are three Q10 and three Q5 devices plus one Z30 on display (only inventory). No one buys the Q5 and the Q10 sells more than the Z10. There is no Z10 in inventory.
Three customers in store at “Cell Shop” department. Dalia, the sales person, states that people are afraid to buy BlackBerry cell phones since they fear the company will go the way of Nortel. Sales have dropped since the end of September.
In one month they sell 5 BlackBerry devices, usually the Q10, with the Samsung S4 at about 50 a month and the same for iPhone.
Not a single Q5 device was sold by this sales person since its launch in Canada. One Z10 with Rogers and one Z10 with Virgin and three Q5 cell phones with Koodo are in stock.
Ali, the sales guy says people believe BlackBerry is going to be split and sold and this is why people won’t buy the devices. Sales are worst now since the announcement of the special committee to investigate strategic options and subsequent news. A customer confirms this idea and says that he used to have a BlackBerry and won’t buy another BlackBerry in the future; the new BlackBerry doesn’t appeal to him. He’s not interested because he’s used to the iPhone now and all the apps and he is worried that BlackBerry won’t be around. He is comfortable with the iPhone. He gives the impression that he has not really tried a new OS 10 BlackBerry.
Carol, the sales person says she is selling her Q10, because of the lack of apps, and cites as an example Bank of Montreal. Carol loves the Q10 because of the key board and the OS10. She switched from the iPhone because of the key board. The banking apps are important. The camera needs to be improved. She says that the poor camera was the final straw for her with poor quality pictures, and not enough Mega Pixels leading to poor resolution. With a poor app ecosystem BlackBerry needs to have a high resolution camera. I did mention the digital signal processing available and the android run time for “jellybean”, but she wanted it to be there already. She does not want to have to side-load apps.
She has in inventory one Q10, two Q5 and two Z10 devices. Since the board decided to explore strategic alliances or sale of BlackBerry, sales are Samsung to BlackBerry 50 to 1 and they were 5 to 1 before the September announcement. People are asking for new LG phones now, before BlackBerry.
Matiu says kids like the iPhone because kids want apps. There is no marketing for the Z30. He has at least four or five Z10 and Q10 devices in stock with one Z30 and 2 or 3 stocked Q5 phones. Sales are 50 to 1 Android to BlackBerry. Same iPhone to BlackBerry. People have no idea of the re-invented phone OS. BlackBerry needs to better market its products.
Xavier says the Nexus 4 by LG is selling well. Personally he doesn’t like BlackBerry because it’s old. He doesn’t sell BlackBerry because people have problems with using the new OS, they need to be educated. He sells a lot of Bold devices with keyboard because of BIS and cheaper to use messaging. He carries the Z10, Q10 and Q5. He sells 3 to 1 Android/iPhone to BlackBerry (manly OS 7 devices with BIS).
Haron says the customers ask for what they want and it’s not BlackBerry. BlackBerry is overpriced and students want cheaper. Haron says that even on Fido kids pay more for the iPhone and the more expensive plans because it’s an iPhone.
Casual Observation at Presse Café
While at this coffee shop, amid the iPhone and Samsung S4 users, I could see some older BlackBerry devices and that one older couple had a Z10 and Q10 between them.
In summary, it appears that the same problems that exist for BlackBerry in the USA, also exist at home in Canada: poor marketing and education on the new BlackBerry 10 phones, poor app ecosystem even the “grown-up” apps, like banking apps are missing, mixed messaging with regards to the future and commitment of BlackBerry to the consumer market. All of this has tarnished the once cool brand and nothing is being done to change this with an absent marketing effort and missteps in execution, market research and planning of new devices that people want. Perhaps, BlackBerry recognizes this and hence its open letter in thirty newspapers in 9 countries today.
(Written with docstogo on my Q10 like Dev C and pasted into WordPress for android run time; all photos taken with said BlackBerry device.)