iPhone vs. Blackberry : Indian Perspective


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TYBMS Marketing Study of BlackBerry vs. iPhone. Describes methodology used as well as results obtained.

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  • Our study comprised mainly a number of qualitative interviews, each lasting a minimum of 25-30 minutes. We approached various kinds of phone users, as well as retailers, attempting to spread our study over the widest range of people possible. The interviews started off with a general overview of people’s phone usage habits, their past history with phones, how many phones they’d had, what they use phones for, and what they look for in a phone. We tried to find out what our interviewees considered absolutely essential in a phone, as well as additional bonus features that they looked for in phones. We then asked them about their favourite phone brands and why they are so. Based on their responses, most of which fortunately for us, tallied with our topic- i.e. Blackberries and iPhones, we asked more questions, and guided the conversation towards our primary focus- a comparison between iPhones and Blackberries. Our study initially aimed to pinpoint which phone is better, more popular, and why. However, our interviews provided no clear “winner” as such, and so we shifted the focus of our study to a comparison of the two phones, and understanding why people buy both- the good and bad points of both phones.
  • There are a few things people nowadays consider essential in phones. For the younger set, it was a camera, music, Bluetooth, etc. The older generation looked for internet access, email capability, user friendliness and large memory capacity. As you can see from the table, we asked our interviewees which of the two phones- the iPhone or the Blackberry- fulfilled an essential “condition” of a phone more. Our results were as displayed in the above table. In our interviews, we also asked various phone users why they would buy either the iPhone or Blackberry. People said they would buy the blackberry mainly for its BBM (Blackberry Messaging) service, which allows them to message other blackberry users for free. This proved to be Blackberry’s strongest point, especially amongst the youth, who use text messages more than the older set, and who can now message their friends who have even gone to college abroad for free. Other reasons for the purchase of a Blackberry according to our interviewees were that it looks nice, the games such as Word Mole and BrickBreaker are very popular, and that email was very easily accessible on the go with a Blackberry. The iPhone’s USPs were its unique and large touchscreen, which some users said was very smooth and comfortable to touch, rather than tapping on keypads. The applications which can be downloaded on the iPhone, which are varied and large in number were also a big draw, especially amongst college students who liked playing them in class. Apart from its super large memory capacity, as well as the fact that it looked classy, many people said it was convenient, as it combined their phone and iPod into one entity. From our study so far, the main insights we gleaned were that the iPhone’s touchscreen and applications were its biggest USPs, whereas the Blackberry’s BBM feature was the only major factor contributing to its popularity.
  • The iPhone was launched at a time when brand Apple was huge, with the immense popularity of iPods, the Macbooks, etc. The huge number of people using Apple products learned quickly of the iPhone’s existence by visiting the Apple website, and the iPhone, even prior to its release, became something of a cult figure amongst the tech savvy and trend chasing youth. When iPhone released, sales skyrocketed, and people bought it because it was such an of the moment trend. The concept of a phone with a touchscreen of that size was new, and everyone wanted a piece of it. The online community spread the word, and rave reviews about the look and applications of the phone led to its initial popularity. It was only after the initial craze that people began to realize that the phone lacked in basic features like Bluetooth and forwarding of messages (these were two features that people mentioned in particular). The Blackberry smartphone has existed since 2002. It is only recently that the product faced some kind of revival, due to the introduction of the Blackberry Messenger feature. This feature was a boon to students who love messaging friends, even those who had gone abroad to study, and found their salvation in the free messaging service. Most of our interviewees said they had bought their Blackberries because all their friends had them. In certain cases, this could be interpreted as peer influence, i.e. to be popular and trendy and to have what your friends had, and in some cases, it was a matter of numbers- a large number of friends with blackberries made owning a BB convenient, as you could now contact them for free. The Blackberry, initially a business phone which relied upon its instant email access as it’s USP, metamorphosed into a phone for the youth. The multimedia features such as music, games, etc. were emphasized upon, to further accentuate this, and it worked wonders for the Blackberry. One of the most quaint ways in which the Blackberry managed to gain popularity was by the trend of putting one’s BB pin number as a Facebook or MSN status. It elicited curiosity and envy amongst the youth, and worked in the favour of creating more demand for the Blackberry.
  • We covered a large range of people to interview, so as to obtain optimum and most unbiased results. We divided the results of our study under certain client profiles so as to help us understand their input better.    I. AGE    The first category was the age of the client.    Young people, that is, people under the age of 16, surprisingly formed a part of our target base. The popularity of these two phones was evident from this fact alone! Or was it? We discovered that a large part of them actually inherited an older sibling/parent’s phone, and that it was not their choice alone. For those who actually had their own phones, the iPhone was popular because of its applications and user friendliness, and the Blackberry more due to peer pressure.    The youth, who formed the main part of our study said they bought the iPhone because:  - Applications  - Music  It looks “cool”.   The Blackberry was mainly popular with them because of the BBM feature. It was a sort of snowball effect that the Blackberry became so popular- three friends owned blackberries, and so the rest of their friends also bought it to be able to message them for free, and as more and more people bought Blackberries, the BBM community grew.    The older set mostly stayed away from iPhones. The touchscreen concept was too new for them, and they preferred the good old QWERTY keypad, which they were already used to. The Blackberry was useful to them because of its email feature, internet accessibility, and GPS. The ones who owned iPhones owned them for certain applications that were helpful to them in their line of work. Neither the music nor the applications worked for the iPhone in the case of this group of consumers.      II. OCCUPATION    Students, businessmen, and professionals were the main occupations into which we classified our target base.    The reasons for students to buy either phone are pretty much those of the youth. The Blackberry has free messaging, has awesome games, and all their friends have them. The iPhone looks cool and has applications, and can also double up as an iPod.    Businessmen shunned the iPhone, it didn’t seem professional enough to them, and they had no use for the applications. The Blackberry, on the other hand, had already established itself as a business phone in their heads, and they found the email access to be highly convenient, especially for businessmen constantly on the run. Microsoft Office was also supported by the Blackberries, and worked in their favour. The businessmen’s main use for the phone was business, and NOT the BBM feature.    Professionals such as doctors said the iPhone had applications that were useful to them in their line of work, and that they had no use for blackberries.    III. SEX    Another basis for comparison of the sales process was sex of the interviewee.     Males bought the Blackberry mainly because of the games. Being tagged a “business phone” it seemed older, more mature than an iPhone. The BBM feature was not a primary factor in purchase of the Blackberry. The iPhone gained popularity because of the thousands of applications that could be downloaded on it, and also because boys attached great value to the brand Apple.    Girls went gaga over the BBM messaging feature. They love to message and keep in touch, and the free messaging service was the biggest factor in the purchase of a Blackberry. The iPhone’s popularity was more for the giant camera, and because it looked so nice. The “zooming into photos” feature of the phone also appealed a lot to women, because it was so novel.    IV. PURCHASE PROCESS:    We also managed to divide the consumers into groups based on the purchase processes.    One type of user was someone who had received the phone as a gift. Both the iPhone and Blackberry were very popular as gifts to give to your adolescent children. However, we also found out that parents bought the iPhone as a present independent of any influence, and that people who had received Blackberries as presents had usually asked their parents for them.    The second type of purchase process was according to price. The person buying the phone would have a budget, and depending on this, they would buy a phone which best suits their needs. Both phones scored pretty low in this category, the iPhone was considered super expensive, and the Blackberry was not reasonably priced either. However, the cheaper models of Blackberry, recently released, gained popularity amongst buyers.    The third type of purchase process was the typical go to a store with a general idea, browse, look at alternatives, compare, decide and finally buy the phone. For the Blackberry, people come in and say “I want to buy a Blackberry.” And they are unaware of the difference between the models, the features, etc, and need to be explained. iPhone buyers have a fixed idea, and generally spend less time making the purchase decision. For buyers of these two phones, price is generally not an issue- they just look for the phone that suits their needs the best. In fact, a few people said they’d buy the phone BECAUSE it was expensive (this could be some kind of price illusion, that a high price equals superior quality and the luxury factor comes in). 
  • Our observations during this study ranged from the surprising to the funny. We are going to list the foremost of these below:    1. The iPhone and Blackberry crazes could not be as easily compared as we thought they could be, as we realized later that it was the launch of a new product (the iPhone) versus the revival of an old product (the Blackberry). Both phones had their reasons for their popularity, and each has unique features the other doesn’t possess.     2. Both phones were popularized mainly by word of mouth. While the online community spread the word of the iPhones imminent launch, it was the Facebook statuses and peer influences that increased the popularity of the Blackberry. Although both phones are widely advertised in the print media as well as online, most people didn’t even talk about the advertisement being a factor in the purchase of the phone, but more about how everyone had it, or that it was trendy.    3. There were two types of boys who bought the Blackberry. Those who wanted to play the games, and bought it because it was a big, manly looking phone. These boys didn’t really use the BBM feature, because they don’t message constantly, and don’t like being annoyed by the messages. The other kind was the metrosexual man- the kind who liked to gossip and message and talk- and they were the ones who bought the Blackberry for its BBM feature.    4. Although the iPhone had more appealing features, such as the touchscreen, applications, and looks, the Blackberry managed to match its popularity with its one main USP- the BBM messenger feature, which, it seemed counted for more than all of the iPhone’s features- so said the Blackberry users.    5. Users of neither of the two phones mostly said they wouldn’t want either phone. The main reasons were that both were too big, or too expensive, or too complicated. People said that there were less expensive and easier to use phones with the same features.    6. The brand Apple seemingly generated more brand loyalty than the Blackberry. Most people didn’t even know that the Blackberry isn’t an independent brand, but a product of a company called RIM. More BB users said they would convert to the iPhone, if the iPhone had been cheaper. The iPhone users criticized the Blackberry a lot, and said they would not change.
  • iPhone vs. Blackberry : Indian Perspective

    1. 1. iPhone vs. BlackBerry
    2. 2. Methodology-Qualitative interviews with various phone users - Retailer Research - Online research
    4. 4. How Each PhoneBecame Popular Brand Apple vs. BlackBerry Messenger
    5. 5. Our observations - L aunch vs. Revival - Word of mouth - iPhone’s multiple features vs. BBM - N on users - Brand loyalty towards Apple -Size Matters - Owning one leads to unnecessary paranoia - BlackBerry is just a copy of the iPhone