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Marketer Spotlight :: Mark Keating, Director, Platform Marketing for Research In Motion

Mark Keating is Director of Platform Marketing for Research In Motion (RIM) and is responsible for shaping how RIM brings to market its evolving portfolio of business-focused BlackBerry software and service solutions.

Mark and his colleagues are focused on helping organizations realize the potential of mobility by understanding how it can be leveraged to drive business innovation, collaboration, and measurable returns on investment. In recent InformationWeek Analytics interviews, mobility is one of the top 3 enterprise priorities in 2010, and, to many CIOs the biggest game changing opportunities for their organizations and careers. We recently asked Mark for some insights on mobility and what his team is doing with the BlackBerry brand and the platform.


The data and market buzz tell us Mobility and “smart phone” platforms are exploding. Can you size up the real opportunity?


IDC estimated that a record 54.5 million smartphones shipped in the fourth-quarter last year and that’s a 40% increase over the same period in the previous year. IDC also estimates that in the next three years 57 million personal-liable devices will be shipped worldwide. Personal-liable devices are devices individuals bring into their organizations wanting to attach to their corporations servers (email, PIM, etc.) but personally pay for them in part or in whole. That’s a whole lot of individuals looking for devices, data plans, applications both consumer and enterprise, accessories, and more. The opportunity is huge.

How can IT executives and marketers capitalize on this massive market shift? What should they do now?

Start looking at how your organization can take advantage of the benefits that mobility enables. For IT executives, that’s looking for opportunities to deploy devices to strategic pockets of the organization as well as leveraging those personal-liable devices. Remove the barriers to allowing employees access to email, PIM, apps, and more. It may require IT executives to standardize on a secure platform such as BlackBerry, and to put into place policies to ensure that risk to corporate networks is minimized. But the mobility is happening and the more you plan for it, whether corporate- or personal-liable, the more productive all employees will be.

Marketer’s have a great opportunity to now deliver their message via these smartphones. Marketers should think about how they can leverage mobile ad trends, social networking applications like Facebook and Twitter, mobile friendly newsletters/blogs and even custom applications to deliver and/or enhance their messaging/branding – think about the interactive nature and the immediacy that smartphones enable – and leverage it. If you’re in the B2C space, consider going one step further and looking for opportunities to build applications for the leading smartphone platforms that drive intimacy and value-added engagement between you and your customers. This will cultivate long-term loyalty with your customer base.

You have an exciting opportunity and a challenging battle at the same time – the installed base of the BlackBerry platform in corporations with a consumer buzz around Apple’s iPhone. How does this factor into your marketing strategy and marketing tactics?

Certainly the iPhone does have its fans – but we continue to outsell Apple and in IDC’s report of the top 10 Converged Mobile Devices shipped from vendor to channel in the United States for Q4 2009 – BlackBerry Smartphones were 5 out of the top 10, including the number one selling device - the BlackBerry Curve. So we’re doing well. RIM didn’t achieve these results by making BlackBerry smartphones solely for corporate use. Consumers are purchasing BlackBerry smartphones in large numbers. As Mike Lazaridis, Co-CEO of RIM, said in an interview last week at Mobile World Congress – teenage girls love their BlackBerry devices. That’s just one segment of a consumer population that is being attracted to the BlackBerry device and platform.

We’re focusing on trying to make it easier for consumers to bring their devices into their organizations and attach to their corporate email and calendars, regardless of the size of the organization. We’ve recently announced the BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express, free new server software that wirelessly and securely synchronizes BlackBerry smartphones with Microsoft® Exchange or Microsoft® Windows® Small Business Server. The new BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express software will be provided free of charge in order to address two key market opportunities. First, the software offers economical advantages to small and mid-sized businesses (SMBs) that desire the enterprise-grade security and manageability of BlackBerry Enterprise Server but don’t require all of its advanced features. Second, the free BlackBerry Enterprise Server Express software provides a cost-effective solution that enables IT departments to meet the growing demand from employees to be able to connect their personal BlackBerry smartphones to their work email.

What are the core and the emerging smart phone applications being utilized by consumers and by business users?

Application usage is extremely personal, and is driven very much by how the user is leveraging the smartphone for their personal and business needs. Broadly speaking, they fall into a few categories: Entertainment, Communications/Collaboration, and Utilities.

From an entertainment perspective, it’s pretty simple: Games, media (music and video content) are the key drivers. These are used primarily for one’s personal use – but some of these same applications are starting to be leveraged for business purposes – either for marketing to consumers or for delivery of content within an organizations’ employee base.

From a communications standpoint, Social Networking applications such as Facebook and Twitter, and in the enterprise Microsoft Office Communicator, Lotus Connections and Quickr, are being used more widely. Some organizations are even developing their own social networking apps for use in their company. The immediacy of response/interaction makes them ideal for both consumers and business users and Facebook, Twitter, and even BlackBerry Messenger are among the top free applications downloaded on BlackBerry App World.

And finally from a “utility” standpoint the floodgates open widely. Lifestyle applications are big for consumers – whether they’re Health and Wellness or Sports. Applications like Poynt, that leverage search functions, calendaring, GPS capabilities and more, are big amongst consumers and business users alike. Travel applications are popular for the road warrior. Time management applications for the professional services crowds. Eprescribing applications for the medical community. And so on.

The most robust applications are highly engaging and relevant, personalized and contextualized and apps that become a seamless part of the core user experience, an integrated extension of the inbox, calendar, address book and other native apps. This class of emerging applications are the apps that are taking the smartphone to the next level.

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