Friday, 14 October 2011

Why no news is not always good news

Image: via Blackberry phone

It's a journalists' dream headline: Apple and Blackberry Crumble (for another hilarious take on this marketing gimmick, see The Two Ronnie's sketch)

So in a week that has been a PR headache for the brains behind Blackberry, Research In Motion (RIM), it appears rivals Apple have become a victim of their own success after news of the iOS 5 update lead to it trending on Twitter, causing the company's servers to crash as millions rushed to download the service. Ironic considering the spawn of the smartphone has been attributed to the surge in social networking in the past two years.

More irony elsewhere as Blackberry, the epitome of communication in this highly connected age, fails to communicate with its customers, or rather not quickly enough. The fiasco has been compared to the slow response by Toyota's CEO during its 2010 recall of 8 million cars. It's easy with the benefit of hindsight to speculate what RIM should have done - taken a leaf out of Microsoft's book, who, after its cloud services crashed following a lightening strike earlier this year, stuck to the Golden Rule: communicate, communicate and communicate some more, preferably via Twitter.

"It's a haughtiness born of the age when internet companies often no longer even have phone numbers - it's not an attitude the public seem minded to forgive" (Rob Waugh, 2011)

No news is not always good news, as Blackberry users soon realised as hours of disruption turned into days without so much as a peep from RIM. And as three million iPhone 4S are expected to sell this weekend alone, this PR blunder couldn't have come at a worse time for the communications giant. No irony there.

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