Study: Requiring BlackBerrys Hurts Brand

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Corporate policy mandating that employees use BlackBerry phones for work may actually undermine brand loyalty to the smartphone line, suggests a new report from Crowd Science. The market research firm found that only 35% of people whose smartphones were selected by their companies said they were "very satisfied" with their phone compared to about 60% of users who had some input in the choice of devices. Research in Motion's BlackBerry, long dominant in the enterprise market, is the phone brand most often chosen by companies for their workforce.

Furthermore, almost one-fifth of BlackBerry users (19%) surveyed in the latest smartphone brand loyalty study by Crowd Science had their devices chosen for them, compared to 4% of Android of iPhone users, respectively. Not surprisingly, one-third of BlackBerry owners use their phones only or mostly for work compared to only 20% for all smartphone users.

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Combine the low satisfaction levels among people with company-ordered smartphones with the fact that a high proportion of them are BlackBerry owners, and you've got a key factor in the low overall loyalty seen in BlackBerry users for the past year, reasons Sandra Marshall, vice president of research at Crowd Science.

But since BlackBerry has long been dominant in the corporate market, it's difficult to say whether company policies requiring the device have turned users against the brand or whether simply the experience of using the phone itself has. Either way, the question is becoming academic as a growing proportion of companies are freeing employees to pick their own phone.

A survey last month of 200 companies in the U.S. and the U.K. by Sanford C. Bernstein & Co found that 74% allow workers to use devices other than BlackBerrys. And a separate study this week from corporate research firm ChangeWave showed BlackBerry's share of the enterprise market slipping to 66% from 69% in the second quarter while Android surged from 10% to 16% and the iPhone went up a percentage point to 31%.

Consistent with the results from prior smartphone studies, Crowd Science found that only 45% of all BlackBerry users said they were very satisfied with their phones compared to about 70% and Android users. Only 30% would buy another BlackBerry.

Heaping more woe on the brand, 30% of people said their next phone would be an iPhone, 20% an Android device, and 20% a regular cell phone. Only 10% were eyeing a BlackBerry next. The study's findings were drawn from a random sample of 2,423 online users polled between August 25 and September 7.

RIM earlier this still managed to post strong second-quarter results, beating expectations with earnings of $1.46 a share on revenue of $4.62 billion. The company shipped 12.1 million units in the quarter compared to Wall Street expectations of 11.8 million. But RIM fell short on net subscriber additions, adding 4.5 million instead of the forecast of about 5 million.

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