IF Research in Motion could have chosen a day to have a second BlackBerry outage in less than a year then last Friday, when Apple’s record-breaking iPhone 5 hit the shelves in the UK, would probably not have been first choice.
Yet that is what transpired. Last year RIM suffered an outage that went on for days, sparking a deluge of complaints that spilled over into social and mainstream media – not to mention the stock market.
This time, with a much shorter outage that only impacted the Vodafone network, what has been the impact on BlackBerry’s reputation?
The first that I heard about the outage was on Twitter, and a look at YouGov SoMA, which measures the reach of messages on social media, shows that 23 per cent of the Twitter population heard something about BlackBerry on Friday, compared to one per cent the day before and the day after. As might be expected, the vast majority of those people were reading negative tweets.
How will that social media storm affect the brand in the real world? It is early days, but by Monday BlackBerry’s buzz score on BrandIndex had dipped to -12 from -6 last Thursday, while its Index score (a composite of six key image attributes) was down from +7 to +3.
Neither represent major falls, and I would not expect them to drop much further. However, the problem for RIM is that it reinforces negative perceptions that have haunted the brand for some time.
The chart shows the steep drop that BlackBerry suffered in both buzz and index back in November 2011 and how it had recovered somewhat but still had a very long way to go (indeed, Index had been heading back in the wrong direction for most of 2012).
Although this latest outage may have limited impact, it is likely to act as another drag on what has been a pretty tepid recovery.
Stephan Shakespeare is the chief executive of YouGov.