Use your rusty old BlackBerry as down payment for a shiny new powerful iPhone 5s. That’s what the US telecom giant T-Mobile was hoping its customers would do. This, turned out to be a big mistake. Instead, it opened up a whole can of furious BlackBerry diehards and a truly “outraged” BlackBerry CEO. While T-Mobile might have stepped on BlackBerry’s toes, it did show how loyal its fans are.
The controversial T-Mobile offer urges customers to “switch to iPhone 5s” to “get powerful communications and productivity apps — with the ease that Apple is known for.” Customers in turn don’t have to pay an installation fee for the iPhone 5s.
We’ve seen competitors from Microsoft to Apple offering discounts or in-store credit to people willing to convert to a new ecosystem or device but we’ve never really seen a mobile carrier encouraging people to get rid of a certain brand. This, you can imagine, made BlackBerry CEO John Chen pretty damn upset.
Chen writes in a blog post, “I can assure you that we are outraged too. What puzzles me more is that T-Mobile did not speak with us before or after they launched this clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion.” He further went on extending BlackBerry’s deepest gratitude to all its loyal customers and fans.
T-Mobile CEO John Legere Tweeted in response to upset fans reassuring them that nobody’s forcing anyone to change brands:
BlackBerry follow up- We give our customers choices, but you don’t have to give up your #loyalty. We will continue to support
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 17, 2014
He then later said:
BlackBerry users, I'm hearing you loud and clear. Let me work with the team and get back with you.
— John Legere (@JohnLegere) February 16, 2014
T-Mobile did get back to them and said in an official statement to the LA Times, “We will begin offering free expedited shipping of BlackBerry devices by Friday.” T-Mobile further said, “We are happy to be a BlackBerry partner and apologize for any confusion.”
The dust seems to have settled a bit, T-Mobile apologised and is trying to compensate for its missteps. BlackBerry, on the other hand, has shown that it’s not ready to roll over and die. The company has instead shown that it still has a strong, faithful fan base.
Blackberry also recently announced that its popular instant messaging service BBM will now be available on Android 2.3 Gingerbread. Apparently, 21% of Android users use Gingerbread so this move is expected to increase BBM’s uptake by a great deal.
This “great offer” was emailed to T-Mobile customers last week: