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RIM Have a Retail Strategy for the BlackBerry PlayBook?


The BlackBerry PlayBook is going to be RIM’s first direct retail effort which means we are going to see a new side of RIM in the next few months. Unlike current BlackBerry smartphones that are sold through carriers the PlayBook will also be available through retail channels like Best Buy, Office Depot, and other stores. This make me wonder how effectively RIM will pull off a direct retail strategy.

For once RIM’s customers will no longer be carriers or corporations. RIM will be selling directly to customers and their strategy for doing so will probably either make or break the device launch. An effective launch through hundreds of channels is a difficult task for a company that has never done such a thing before.

What do you think RIM’s retail strategy will be like? Will they finally offer direct customer support?

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  1. With the amount of advertising they do it would be easy for them to also partially adopt Dell’s direct to consumer model.

    Actually, with the number of sites that review BlackBerry products, and the following they have, they could even completely go that route and just send demo units to prominent sites to get the word out.

  2. Yes, they have a great strategy. And like Dell, they could in the future offer custom made PlayBooks.

    • Good point, there are definitely no custom tablets out there yet so it will be interesting to see if tablets eventually become that mainstream (you’re relying on volume to make up the extra cost of customizing).

  3. So does that mean that anyone can just easily grab it off the shelves?

    • Yeah, sounds like we’re going to see it at a good amount of retail stores and online as well, amazon, bestbuy, walmart, target, office depot, staples.

  4. They just have to keep up with the new wave of commercials they have been coming out with. Blackberry has been appearing everywhere and they should keep going in this direction

  5. its good that rim wants to be able to get directly to the consumer but what i really think rim should do is, open up a dedicated blackberry store in the top 10-20 cities in north america. they already have one blackberry store in china. if the revenue figures at that store are amazing (and only amazing), then they should do a slow roll out to north america and then to europe. they can sell the playbook and any other unlocked device directly to the consumer. of course, they would have to have an in-store repair/service center that can also do minor services like updating an os to its carriers latest recommended os and/or backing up files from a “dead” blackberry and either emailing it to the customer’s email addy or allow them to install a copy onto a usb key. they can also have a battery recharge station or a battery swap program put in place. this would probably put a serious dent into the apple store revenue since the apple store doesn’t offer a battery swap option for their iphones. it’ll be another selling feature to those new clients who are deciding between an iphone or a blackberry.

    if the apple store can survive and post profits, then i’m sure a blackberry store can do the same.

  6. One key component of their strategy that is missing at this point is the lack of advertising for the PlayBook. We as fans are all over this device but there are a lot of people who really have no idea that RIM is making a tablet. They need to advertise, a lot. I also think its great that they are selling directly to consumers. If they can provide customers with good customer service, they will win over a lot of people. I would love to see them open up some retail stores. It would be great to go to one place to have my devices repaired and/or upgraded.

  7. They do need to start getting the word out about the Playbook to non-Blackberry users. In particular, they need to make sure people know that you don’t need a Blackberry phone to use it. Although the lack of some native features may still be a problem for some.

  8. I think it’s about time RIM started their own retail outlets where customers can take a look at their products- just like nokia and apple have done. I think a move like this would open up a lot of doors for RIM in terms of reaching a wider target population.

  9. Good question, my initial thoughts were that it would be somewhat staggered but with leaks from both Staples and Office Depot, it looks like they’ll go widespread right out of the gate.

  10. Direct customer support via a BB storefront would be a dream come true for most BlackBerry owners. This would be a HUGE undertaking though.

    Where would the support start and finish? Would we still be required to go through our carriers (waiting on the phone for hours) for technical support? Or would RIM train and hire technicians to provide on the spot service and repairs? I think the latter is highly unlikely.

    If RIM does decide to go the storefront route, I see the stores being strictly retail locations with all support (excluding perhaps non-carrier wifi only PlayBooks) continuing as before through carriers.

    This is a very interesting thing to think about though because, as Ronen said, the PlayBook will be RIM’s first direct retail effort. Its really weird to think about RIM providing any sort of service direct to consumers. RIM has always been far removed from the headaches of direct customer service. It took the PlayBook to bring them back to the people! We’ll see what happens.

  11. I think they have the right stratgey and distribution channels in place. I do think the PlayBook is allowing RIM not to be so dependent on carriers. The market is very competitive and even though I hate to admit it Apple has a good strategy by not getting too dependent on the carriers. It allows them to not be restricted or abid by what the carriers want and allows them to focus on what kind of product they want to create.

  12. I can’t wait for the playbook. I have been cooling my heels since I learned about the tablet. A good thing I was delaying my gratification before the CES. But what annoys me is that I’ve been hearing nothing but iPad dis and dat and Apple dis and dat, bt not nothing from BB PLAYBOOK!

  13. I was travelling last week and had a layover in Philly. I was surprised to see a Blackberry store in the terminal not far from the food court area. While I’m sure it isn’t owned by RIM in any way, I think it goes a long way to get the devices out there in front of people. RIM should consider the possibility of opening their own retail shops in key areas.

  14. i give it the thumbs up….. i hate being bound to carriers and contracts!

  15. I don’t plan on signing any contracts for the Playbook. I don’t want to be tied to just one carrier. I may settle for the wifi version but it depends on pricing. I hope there is a release date and pricing soon.

  16. at least they are trying to do it right!

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