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Achieving Relevance – Quick Look At Blackberry And Other Smartphones


Achieving relevance for your brand is a hard task.  Staying relevant with what you do is a great task to your followers, audience, product users and the world at large. It is a debt you do not only owe yourself, but every other person that is enjoying the ride with you.

In the 2000s, BlackBerry phones were arguably the most used smartphones in the United States and one of the most used in the world. Research In Motion, the maker of BlackBerry, understood a particular need of the society, and was relevant in satisfying it. Right from the production of its first phone, the BlackBerry Pearl 8100 in 2001, its progression rate grew enormously, with different products being successfully accepted at their introduction. That’s its first relevance story as far as smartphones are concerned.


Nokia, in the 2000s, had a similar success story. It was almost everywhere, especially in Africa, and its prominence rose with every new product it introduced into the market. Its expansion in the mobile phone market began when it moved from the traditional Java operating systems to making Symbian operating systems. Users were hooked. Symbian was cool. It allowed multitasking and functions that customers hadn’t seen before. Nokia’s innovation brought them runway success.

Definition of relevance

The two illustrations above are what we call relevance. Merriam-Webster defines relevance as the ability to satisfy the needs of the users. Not just satisfying those needs, but doing so consistently and on the back of innovation. Relevance does not come for free; it is a product of hard work.  Relevance requires that you understand the society in which you operate and understand their needs. Understand also the components and features of such needs – why they are unmet still, how they’ll change from time to time, the demographics of the needs and more. This information will help you craft solutions in the present and also prepare brilliantly for the future.

In 2007 when Apple released its first iPhone, many media outlets called it “BlackBerry Killer”. The statement seemed harsh, but BlackBerry weren’t green behind the ears. They were market leaders and managed to hang on to their dominance…till 2011. As things tech go, those “BlackBerry Killer” comments started looking like the future foretold. Apple (even with the huge Google’s Android threat) grew and kept establishing itself in the market while BlackBerry’s fan base started experiencing a rapid drop in numbers.

Apple’s strength didn’t evolve simply because of its name or the country it is made in, but the value it offers people.  Staying relevant is a demanding thing to achieve.

Qualities That Will Ensure Your Relevance In The Market

Staying true to value

When talking relevance, value is king. Value is the importance and usefulness of what you offer people, the major impact of the brand or product that you represent. Can it solve a problem people quest to get solutions to everyday?  Is it user or audience friendly? Is the value reasonable compared to the price? And so on. If it is worth it, it would surprise you how well you would flourish even with the threats of your competitors.

Be guided by your initial purpose

Another principal thing to be aware of is the purpose for which you are doing what you do. It is so funny how people get carried away with accolades and success, so much so that they forget the vacuum they were meant to fill. You need to stay sensitive to what your primary focus or purpose is. If your business was meant to cure hunger in the community you live in, for example, you need to continually work in that path, updating yourself with every new development and client need, creating new methods and strategies.

One of the ways to get this done is through survey research and assessment. Get yourself acquainted with the people you serve and evaluate your service relevance to the advancement of their need. In the process of feeding people to solve their hunger problem, you may discover you can also provide them with water. Though expanding your service offering is good, but that should never make you deviate from the initial purpose of hunger quenching.

How proactive are you

As you fulfill purpose, you must also try to be that brand or person that others want to compete with, and not the other way round. For example, as dominant as BlackBerry was in 2007, 2008 and years after those, it didn’t see a reason to make  more advanced version of phones, its operating system and applications until the growing iPhone and Android phones forced it to do so.

People want to play games, use fancy applications, use themes and work with fast operating systems that don’t “hang” while in use. Even when it responded to the call, the series it made were seriously criticized for several flaws. Sooner than expected, it became the struggling underdog in a battle with those that use to look up to it.

Are you flexible?

Flexibility is a great tool or resource you or your brand must possess. You must be able to not only cope with changes in circumstances and situations, but to create novel solutions to problems as they arise. It will not pay you to  remain traditional forever; you just have to move and modernize, integrating your plans with the changing environment. The way we get things done in the 90s are already archaic, no one wants to go back to those years. Because you follow trends doesn’t mean you have abandoned your standards.

You should be dependable and responsible

You have to be dependable. The people you give your service/product to must see so many reasons to depend on you. Making available what they want, at the time it’s most needed. Even when it can’t be available at that time, they must have assurance they will get it in no time. This doesn’t only mean you are dependable, but also responsible. When you provide the right solution at the right time of need, or work them out at an amazing speed, your reputation is solidified.

For many years, BlackBerry was the market leader of smartphones, especially in the United States, but somehow Apple and Google’s Android moved up and left it behind. They didn’t just enter the market; but came with things that would satisfy the user’s hunger which for sure would have been borne out of careful market analysis. Both brands did not just satisfy people; they made it a responsibility to expose people to new features and even put them in suspense of what to expect more.

Don’t be distracted

The only mistake Blackberry made was losing touch.  It got carried away and lost itself in the middle of success and attention. It kept producing phones, but only the old and obsolete features kept coming with them. Innovation was at the minimum. It eventually was forced to start using its competitor’s product, the Android operating system. What does this mean? Well, for starters, its uniqueness is poof! Gone. Secondly, BlackBerry phones became a gateway introducing users to the world of Android. Users who experienced satisfaction with Android on BlackBerry may see reasons to switch to another phone brand when the next purchase is done. After all, the new phone will still run Android OS like the BB did. I will say that relevance was lost.

What of Nokia? Somewhere along the line, it messed up its opportunity to remain in the limelight. The idea of its Symbian operating system that it failed to develop and innovate on was probably what laid the foundation of the Android system it had no choice than to later incorporate.

Distraction takes you off your feet. It makes you lose your importance, slowly, even while people are still dancing to the rhythm of your music.

Relevance means to move abreast your audience, subscribers, clients or product users’ needs and dynamism; giving them the value they seek and deserve always.





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