During the first half of 2011, BlackBerry was performing strongly in the Mobile Telephone / Personal Digitial Assistant (PDA) sector. It was in a position which mirrored the Apple iPhone on Buzz and Index scores, remaining well ahead of the sector average and also ahead of most other brands.
However, when the August riots broke out in the UK, there was one brand that was continually being talked about - BlackBerry. It seemed that BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) was the communication method of choice for rioters, with the free instant messaging service allowing them to plan amongst each other without police tracking.
On YouGov’s BrandIndex there was an immediate impact on BlackBerry’s Buzz, with a drop from +10 on August 8 to -8 by August 11. This resulted in a drop from sixth to last place, out of all 25 mobile phone and PDA brands.
BlackBerry Buzz saw a steep drop, but encouragingly for the firm there was little real decline in its Index score. Between August 8 and August 15, BlackBerry’s Index declined by only 2 points before it started to recover.
By October 7, BlackBerry had regained its strong position in its sector. It had an Index score which was well ahead of the RIM (Research in Motion) and Mobile Telephone / PDA Industry sector averages. Also their Buzz and Reputation scores were faring well.
Then late in the morning of October 10, BlackBerry experienced a malfunction which instantly began to affect users of BlackBerrys online services in Europe, Africa and the Middle East. Customers were unable to access the internet, check emails and send instant messages.
The immediate impact of the outage was dire for BlackBerry BrandIndex scores as its Buzz plummeted by more than 67 points in the week following the outage (from +11 to -56). The brand’s Reputation score declined by nearly 38 points, while Index lost close to 30 points. The gap in Index between BlackBerry and the Apple iPhone increased to 36 points by October 17. Things were certainly not looking good for BlackBerry.
After having suffered an entire week of ‘free-falling metrics’ scores quickly began to improve - Buzz for BlackBerry had bottomed-out on October 18 but by the end of the same month it had gained back a full 29 points. BlackBerry’s Reputation stood at +4.7 on October 17, however, by the end of October it had increased up to +25. Perhaps most importantly, BlackBerry’s Index began to rebound. As of December 9, BlackBerry had an Index score up to +13.6 a score which was back to within 10 points of the Apple iPhone.
So, BlackBerry has been in full-recovery post the outage. However, in spite of the recent gains there are still areas that BlackBerry need be concerned with. First of all, BlackBerry needs to continue to recover from the loss of much of its customer sentiment, something that is not that easy to do. Subsequently, although customer sentiment is recovering well, many of the measures are still down quite a ways from where they once stood.
To possibly avoid a future repeat of the outage BlackBerry could potentially aim to create a reliable back-up system. Also, many customers reported that a lack of communication was a big issue during the outage and BlackBerry should look to improve upon how they communicate with their customers in the event that something like this should happen again. In the meantime, only time will tell how far BlackBerry’s recovery will take.