By Kye Husbands

With all the attention recently about RIM’s struggles (i.e. the BlackBerry maker) the question many have asked, is whether or not RIM will be able to compete with the likes of Apple or Google going forward? I don’t have a crystal ball, however, I do have an interesting story.

I had the fortune of observing what I would call a sociological experiment, so let’s answer that question, by telling the story of a six year old boy that my family just wanted to keep a little more occupied during the summer, in a household of diehard BlackBerry users, supposedly addicted to BBM.

Couple quick notes. My aunty has eight kids all between the ages of 21-36, many of whom now have their own kids. With boyfriends, spouses, kids and friends the numbers get huge, so my observation is based on 25 family members linked to this household.

If you have a six-year-old boy, or you’ve ever taken care of a six-year-old boy, then you know how difficult it is to keep them quiet, especially during the summer months. Enter Sebastian, your “average” high energy six-year-old boy who pretty much hates reading, loves video games and is somewhat addicted to gadgets and technology.

So how do you entertain a six year old boy?

THE DECISION – (Sound familiar )

Get him an iPod Touch to occupy his time and encourage him to have fun with the technology, while – hopefully – improving his reading and math skills. Within hours on the iPod Touch, it was clear that he had found a new best friend and within a few days, Sebastian was as fluent as the average iPhone user. Sebastian’s, time on the iPhone consist of, FaceTiming with members of the family, Skype, playing his favorite music and of course playing games.

RESULTS OF THIS IMPROMPTU SOCIOLOGICAL EXPERIMENT

Since that decision, I have witnessed Sebastian directly influence the sale of Apple products, at the expense of BlackBerry, with his sheer energy and love for everything Apple represents to him at the tender age of six. Sebastian’s dad was the biggest diehard BlackBerry fan. He has owned almost every BlackBerry device made over the last seven years as far back as the BB 7290 to more recently the BB Torch, which he loved prior to be influenced by his son. To be honest, Dad never really gave Apple the time, he figured he was too much of a business man and the fluff – bells and whistles – just weren’t necessary for him. But kids, can get you to stop dead in your tracks and once he did, to use his words, “I was blown away by how intuitive and easy the iPod Touch was to use. My six year old son taught me and we now have a new way of spending time together.”

Dad just happens to be one of the best chefs in Toronto and this summer when it was time to upgrade the small fleet, he insisted they all move to iPhones and a couple iPads for good measure. So there went (5) more potential BB sales.

So how else could Sebastian influence the sales of more Apple products? Well, kids play together and every aunty, uncle grand parent and god parent of those with summer birthdays, got hit up for, you guessed it, iPods and iPhones – crazy kids. My god daughter’s birthday was at the end of June and when I asked her why she wanted an iPhone, her response was, “because they are really cool and Sebastian wants us all to get iPods so that we can talk to each other and play games together.” My goddaughter is 10.

So in just under 3 months, since the iPod Touch landed in the household to keep a six year boy occupied, only one of the eight kids (uncles and aunts ages 21 – 36) still have a BlackBerry and he vows to make the switch once it makes sense to do so. The only other person in the household still with a BlueBerry is my aunty. Yes I said, BlueBerry, and that’s what she refers to it as. So just like that, Sebastian sold, directly or indirectly, $10K worth of Apple products and RIM doesn’t even get a look, in a household that wouldn’t give up BBM.

With back to school just around the corner, let’s hope for RIM’s sake that there aren’t too many bored six year old kids that can convert the BlackBerry loyalist to the iPhone camp this easy.

So what’s the point of this story:

  • Customer experience matters and positive word of mouth sells. Sebastian was barely able to read, yet he figured out how to do almost everything there is to do on an iPod Touch within days.
  • Apple’s slogan, “there’s an app for that” is really about infinite discovery. Apple devices continually reinvent them self given the eco-system and with iMessage soon to be released – BBM for iPhones – the network effect can have even more of an impact on RIM.
  • Emotion Sells!!! People really do like bells and whistles once they give things a chance, so RIM better get off their high horse of targeting the business community. I have never liked the term B2B, as it almost implies somehow that businesses are out there talking to other businesses. No MAN!!! These are people talking to people and those same people make decisions based on emotion and then try to rationalize based on logic.

Wondering, where Sebastian is these days? Well, he’s at Wonderland, with his iPod Touch, iPad and parents’ iPhones in case he needs to download a few more apps to stay busy. So Apple, you have found your youngest Super Sales Agent and – yes, his reading is much improved. If you’re Canadian find the best cell phone deal on your terms.

Kye Husbands is co-founder of myCELLmyTERMS, a Toronto-based company that helps cell phone users negotiate wireless plans with independent dealers.

 

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