BlackBerry not good enough for Mercedes

19 Sep

This week marks the launch of a new mobile app/game from Mercedes-Benz Canada wherein one lucky user will score a new 2012 C-Class Coupe car. The Drive & Seek app, which was shown off to a small group of us journalists in Toronto last week, is a nifty piece of software that is designed to expose the luxury car maker’s brand to younger potential customers by giving them a game-like contest to take part in.

The way it works is that each week for the next four weeks, the app will unlock 10 virtual “briefcases,” which are randomly generated locations usually within 100 meters of the user. The phone directs users to the location of a briefcase using a compass and distance meter. When the user finds the location, they score some points, get information about the C-Class Coupe and unlock the next briefcase. The more briefcases that are found, the more points the player scores. The more points they have at the end of the month, the more entries they get in the drawing for the car.

Mercedes-Benz says there will be some secondary prizes, such as sunglasses and watches. The company also expects about 125 people to score full points, which means the odds of winning the car look pretty good to anyone who can devote themselves to finding all 40 briefcases. Of course, because the draw is random, the winner could also turn out to be someone who unlocked just one.

What a number of us found most interesting at the presentation was the fact that the app is only available for iPhone and Android devices. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz staff were quite candid about not making the app - which features fluid graphics and animations - available for BlackBerry because it would have taken too long, cost too much and ultimately not have been worth it. “It’s tough to deliver that kind of experience on a BlackBerry,” an executive said.

On some levels, the decision makes sense. After all, the people most likely to own a BlackBerry - power business users - are also the most likely to already own a Mercedes; they probably don’t need to enter a contest to win a free car. Such people are also the most unlikely to spend time on such a game, given that they’re probably tied up in important meetings or running a company all day, and so on.

However, the decision to avoid BlackBerry is also very telling - for one luxury brand to forsake another in favour of its supposedly lower-crust competitors is nothing short of a slap in the face. Mercedes is effectively saying that BlackBerry isn’t worth the trouble, especially if the key message is to spread its brand to young people. Ouch.

It’s no wonder BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is in an absolute freefall. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company reported dismal quarterly results last week, leading many to suggest RIM is done. When some of the most important brands in the world don’t even bother with your devices, that’s not too far from the truth.


Posted by on September 19, 2011 in apple, Google, RIM


7 Responses to BlackBerry not good enough for Mercedes

  1. randifer

    September 19, 2011 at 12:27 am

    Part of the problem with Blackberry is the media telling people how they are not IPhones. What they fail to take the time to say is WHY they are not IPhones. The reason is simply because we don’t need another IPhone. Blackberry had a very specific market that they went after, and to their surprise indeed, their popularity spilled over into the general consumer market.

    THe problem is that no one can be all things to all people, and that includes RIM. Blackberry is light years ahead when it comes to corporate integration and security. Their phones are highly integrated into the business world, and the fact that the business can control their use, content and access to the web remotely is very important to many. The fact that it doesn’t run some Mercedez promo software is actually in many ways in their favor. ITS NOT THEIR MARKET.

    Games and multimedia have their place and they also have their platforms, and when you try to jam these devices into the world of business you end up with an ugly fit.

    All too often industry “Analysts” who’s actual involvement in the industry is more often than not the ability to sit through an entire keynote speach at an industry convention lead by business men selling smoke and mirrors starts to believe the wrong hype for the wrong reason, and the result is that they scare the bejezus out of some CTO who get to that position by working their way up through purchasing by saying the sky is falling. And the result is that the tech folks in the company spend more time, energy and money reinventing a wheel that was working perfectly well and met all of the requirements on the table for them so that their boss does not feel that they have to justify the platform that they are using to produce solid cost efficient results for their clients.

    Blackberry has its place in the world. It may not occupy that space for ever, but if those who feel the need to stand on a soap box and shout things out would bother to state context rather than make remarks that are broad brush strokes, the device might be seen for what it actually is. Not a consumer product, but a business / corporate tool that does what it does in that environment better than the rest. Can the company survive on that? Why not. After all, Apple survived for 30 years doing exactly the same thing with IBM. Appealing to a specific neich, where they were simply the best choice.

  2. Marc Venot

    September 19, 2011 at 2:59 am

    the Blackberry has an emulator to play the androids app, which is a way to wait to have the qnx toolbox available.

  3. Simon Cohen

    September 19, 2011 at 10:33 am

    Hmm… Peter I know you enjoy taking the mickey out of RIM, but I can’t get behind your thesis that M-B’s decision to not develop a BlackBerry app is more proof that the company is doomed. I think your first theory is the right one: M-B did their market research and discovered that most of their existing customers are already BlackBerry users. Moreover, if you *are* a BlackBerry user, you’re not going to be too upset that M-B has ignored you. You’re likely far more concerned that Rovio still hasn’t given you AngryBirds. :-)

    • petenowak2000

      September 19, 2011 at 11:24 am

      Well, I’d consider Angry Birds one of the most important brands in the mobile world, so yes, the thesis holds! ; )

  4. Parallax Abstraction

    September 19, 2011 at 10:43 am

    So a company decides not to put an app that’s purely an advertising gimmick on the platform and that’s yet another sign the platform is doooooooooomed? Please, I know you enjoy hating on RIM (and many of your reasons for doing so are good ones but one is also simply because they’re not Apple which frustrates me) but this is reaching a little bit. It’s one application in an ocean of them, designed as a form of real-life product placement which Mercedes decided not to put on a certain platform. This is not a sign of anything new, it’s just something that happened and honestly, you’re the only one I’ve seen talking about this contest so I don’t even think that many people care to begin with.

    • petenowak2000

      September 19, 2011 at 11:25 am

      I don’t actually enjoy hating on anyone (with the possible exception of Kanye West). Heck, the patriot in me would like to see RIM kick everyone’s butt. I’m just calling ‘em as I see ‘em.

  5. Randy

    September 19, 2011 at 11:58 am

    In the past week, if you sift through all the negative chatter on RIM, there are som eextreamly positive happenings that just seem to get left out by many…

    1.) Last month, IPAD and RIM made GAINS in market share for tablets while ANDROID actually fell by 4%

    2.) RIM seems to be the gaining a sizable market share in asian markets and certain emerging markets where they have priced themselves about 60% less than IPhone.

    3.) While T-Mobile is having issues with RIM because the UMA feature is not active in the 9900 and slowing their sales, and they have not priced the phone all that agressively, Sprint who does not offer UMA calling and priced the phone more in line with the market has reported their inventory selling out at retail stores everywhere.

    4.) Citrix finally put out their receiver for Playbook. It now offers the best industrial strength option to remote login to a citrix server and remote desktop.

    5.) The fact that RIM built in Near Field Communications technology into some of the new phones allowing them to start to replace current ID badges is genious!

    6.) RIM deals with Evernote and the acquisition of Tungle.

    The current issue with RIM is not about technology, Wallstreet is calling these shots, And that is not the most reliable place to get your tech advice from!


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