updated 05:45 pm EST, Thu December 6, 2012
Biggest corporate customers, government eligible for program
Research in Motion today revealed a program of incentives to its largest corporate customers to encourage them to upgrade to the upcoming BlackBerry 10 ecosystem. RIM is offering online training, webcasts, and free trade-ups of licenses and services for many of its government and corporate clients still on the platform. The educational materials are available now, with the trade-in program commencing just before the January 30 BlackBerry 10 launch.
"We will be aggressively reaching out to our customers to make sure they are aware of this program," said Senior Director of Enterprise at RIM, Bryan Lee. "We see this as really the linchpin for helping our customers to transition to BB10." Lee declined to speculate how many enterprise customers would be ready or wiling to transition to the new operating system on launch day.
"We are encouraged with an 'all out' marketing campaign with the right incentives to motivate enterprises to upgrade," Evercore Partners analyst Mark McKechnie said. "Our take is that this will remove a roadblock for those already planning to upgrade, but likely won't push too many who prefer to wait." He also suspects that the offer won't lure back customers who have left BlackBerry behind.
In the last few months, major government contractor Booz Allen Hamilton has opted to move away from BlackBerry in favor of iPhones or Android phones for its own 25,000 employees. The US government Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency is shifting $2.1 million in purchases annually away from BlackBerry and towards Apple and Android phones. Additionally, the US National Transportation and Safety Board has announced its intention to shift to the iPhone 5 and away from the BlackBerry OS. The Government Business Council has said that federal use of BlackBerry technology by federal service managers has dropped to nearly half of its 2011 levels.