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BlackBerry: $100 in Free Apps Enough to Regain Reputation After Outages?

BlackBerry is up and running again after last week's three-day outage that left 70 million without email service. And Research In Motion (RIM) is now offering users $100 in free premium apps, which will come later this month through the end of the year.

But some seem to think this isn't enough to protect the company from further sliding away from its iOS and Android competition.

CNET commentator Roger Cheng writes, that if their customers wanted apps, they would have turned to iPhone or Android by now. He continues:

[...] the BlackBerry faithful stick with you for primarily one reason: your excellent e-mail service.

[...]

You lose your e-mail, even for one day, and you lose your best reason for keeping a BlackBerry.

"(RIM) has to do something really substantial, something that makes people go wow," said Lance Strate, a professor of communications and media studies for Fordham University.

Reuters has more:

"RIM has responded swiftly but this won't undo the damage done to its reputation," analyst Geoff Blaber at CCS Insight said. "This may go some way to appeasing customers but what's critical is that the problem does not repeat itself."

The giveaway equates to 12 apps, which include the following:

  • SIMS 3 - Electronic Arts
  • Bejeweled - Electronic Arts
  • N.O.V.A. - Gameloft
  • Texas Hold’em Poker 2 - Gameloft
  • Bubble Bash 2 - Gameloft
  • Photo Editor Ultimate - Ice Cold Apps
  • DriveSafe.ly Pro - iSpeech.org
  • iSpeech Translator Pro - iSpeech.org
  • Drive Safe.ly Enterprise - iSpeech.org
  • Nobex Radio™ Premium - Nobex
  • Shazam Encore - Shazam
  • Vlingo Plus: Virtual Assistant - Vlingo

Not only do analysts project the outage will cost RIM more than $100 million, according to SlashGear, but predictions of the outage boosting iPhone 4S sales over the weekend have also been circulating. BlackBerry sales fell Monday, 6 percent to $22.43 while iPhone 4S sales exceeded 4 million, according to the Wall Street Journal. The Northern Voice Online reports analysts predicting the outage as pushing down the gas pedal to RIM's decline:

Charlie Miller, principal research consultant with Accuvant, which is much regarded expert on mobile security, said, “In most ways, iOS is at least as secure as BlackBerry, namely in malware prevention, exploit prevention, etc. BlackBerry is still superior in data encryption and manageability, but reliability obviously is a problem recently for Blackberry.”

And proving him right was a poll conducted by Aite Group on 402 wealth managers even before the outage. It was discovered that 45 percent would choose an iPhone or iPad, compared to 14 percent for a BlackBerry.

Another survey by Enterprise Management Associates showed that 44% of iPhone users were “completely satisfied” with their device, as compared with 34% for Android smartphones and a mere 16% for BlackBerries.

Tuesday, RIM kicks off its Blackberry DevCon Americas software developers conference to try regain its reputation and enliven itself. PC World notes the company has a rough road ahead and several questions to answer at the conference. Will it announce plans for its next-gen devices? How will it overcome what PC World calls, the 'app gap', after it fell behind Android and iOS?

Reuters reported IDC analyst Francisco Jeronimo as saying that perhaps offering apps was a "clever" move as it will help them bridge this gap with their users.

One last thing…
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