BlackBerry 10 launches today, but the firm's European MD adopted a bizarre strategy in promotional interviews this morning.
BlackBerry 10 launches today, and Canadian maker RIM is pinning its hopes on the launch to restore its competitiveness against Apple and Samsung. The firm's European MD, Stephen Bates, took to the airwaves this morning to talk up BlackBerry 10's chances, but his interview strategy was bizarre, to say the least.
BBC radio host Nicky Campbell asked Bates what the firm had learned from the iPhone. A slightly prickly question, but surely a deft sidestep would have done the trick? "We respect what Apple have done with the iPhone and of course we stay abreast of our competition. But we like to think BlackBerry 10 is a unique proposition because…" See? Easy.
Instead, Bates clunkily ignored the question entirely, plunging headlong into some rehearsed-sounding fluff about user experience (and the 'unique proposition' bit that would have worked if he'd at least paid lip service to the question first), prompting Nicky Campbell, old pro that he is, to sense blood. Try not to wince:
Nicky Campbell: What have you learned from Apple?
Stephen Bates: So BlackBerry is a unique proposition… We've got around 79 million customers who love the BlackBerry experience, so we're taking the essence of that experience and moving it forward.
NC: Have you learned anything from the iPhone?
SB: And… this market is a great market. There's a change…
NC: I'm just wondering, technologically, it's a pretty straight question - have you?
SB: So, BlackBerry was one of the inventors of the smartphone market, we've helped shape what the smartphone market is today…
And it doesn't stop there. We've embedded the interview here:
Bates also appeared on BBC Breakfast, where he was interviewed by the friendly-seeming but astute and tenacious business interviewer Steph McGovern. McGovern didn't ask what RIM had learned from the iPhone (phew!) but she too found her questions repeatedly ignored.
After asking about the delays in bringing BlackBerry 10 to the market (Bates talked about how great the platform is), McGovern asked about RIM's declining fortunes over the past few years.
"You must admit that it's been a tough few years for you… What went wrong?"
"So… I'm always excited to be part of this industry. I'm proud to be part of this industry…" Good for you.
"This is a really exciting industry to be in, and we're at the verge of a major change towards this mobile computing, and we think BlackBerry 10 is going to power us through the next 10 years…"
And of course McGovern had to keep asking the same question until she ran out of time for the segment and finished on a joke about "We'll probably never find out what went wrong." That doesn't look good, does it? Now the whole interview is about how something went wrong with your company and how you won't talk about it, instead of being about how shiny BlackBerry 10 is.
Look, we realise you've got to accentuate the positive when you're launching a product. But not to the extent of completely ignoring the questions, which makes it look like you're barmy, and have no idea why the smartphone market changed and left you behind. It's also rude to the interviewer, although they're probably used to that.
Stay tuned for more updates on the BlackBerry 10 launch throughout the day.