Apr 10, 2013
Mar 14, 2012
Let me help you, Dan.
First you need to totally revamp your network. We all know that and you're doing what you can to do that. Kudos. Keep that up.
Second, you've improved Customer Satisfaction ratings, which we all know were in the toilet lately. Again, kudos. Keep that up.
What you haven't done is simple.
Here's what you need to do to win the wireless war.
Please immediately go to a tiered structure. Your offerings in everything except product are dead simple. Keep that same philosophy.
Tier 1 - BASIC PHONES
In this tier, these phones are your consumable products. They can be basic phones (you choose) and they all need a pricepoint of FREE with contract or NO HIGHER THAN $200 off-contract. This in and of itself solves a major dilemma you face...which is that your basic products suck at the moment. You have too many offerings and very little value propositioning.
Limit the choices to five products.
In these five products, you can establish value and selection, but not too much. You don't want to be known as the 'WalMart' or carriers....WalMart is not known for their customer service, so don't position yourselves as that. In this first tier, anyone can buyout their contract for a basic flat rate of $200 (the price of the phone itself). No $350, none of that mess, simply ante up and buy the phone outright and you can walk away. Simple and sexy.
Tier 2 - ENTRY LEVEL/MID-LEVEL SMARTPHONES
In this tier, you are trying to find your bread and butter customer. These phone range in price from FREE on contract to $350 off-contract. Sure, we're going to discuss the top tier shortly for those types of customers, but this one makes your nut each month.
No more than five or six selections should be available.
The Tier 2 customer provides you a way to maximize your revenue without alienating your customers. These customers are the ones who want a FREE smartphone on contract...or one with a low pricepoint. Sounds great. Give it to them. But there is a caveat, you get to load it up with bloatware, control the rollout of the newest iteration of the OS, all of that. You get control. You also get a small selection of phones. Again, simplicity is in the lead here. The problem that most carriers face today is that they simply overwhelm (read: FLOOD THE MARKET) with a new phone every week. Sure, keeps it fresh, right? Wrong. It tells that special someone that the phone they bought (or got free) last week that their phone, stuck on a 2 year commitment, is now worth zilch.....even though it was free, they feel ripped off. Eliminate that rotation - that is stupid.
The Tier 2 customer also gets a perk the Tier 1 does not - early upgrades. For a fee of HALF the buyout price, they can at ANY POINT in their contract do an early upgrade, provided they turn in their old phone in a scaled condition system. If it does not meet scale, they do not qualify. Simple and straightforward. This way you can recon a phone for your prepaid market....essentially providing a better phone at lesser prices.
Tier 3 - PINNACLE PROGRAM
This is the name of of the program for your elite customer, the Pinnacle Customer, using your Pinnacle Program. Your P2 customer (get it, P2 = Pinnacle Program) has perks unlike any other mobile network. They have a contract like anyone else with a buyout but their phones are exclusive in that any software upgrade comes to Sprint before it is released to any other carrier (besides the iPhone...boo hiss). This way, you are positioning yourself as the premier carrier and you have an exclusive relationship with each phone manufacturer. As it stands, you cannot get your OS house in order. This is your most dire predicament with your top tier customers now. Address that right away with this program.
A P2 customer has status points that they can earn based on usage; the more they use, the more they earn towards upgrade points. Like a Rewards Card, this customer can earn cash towards a new product which can be redeemed at any time under any circumstance. P2's also have elite status at the store or Customer Service level....they get first priority. You are driving for the elite status. These are your high spenders, so treat them better than your other customers. Not from an alienation standpoint, but one of 'I want to be a P2...' standpoint.
P2's should be able to upgrade at any time with a nominal fee - say a $150 upcharge for early upgrades (iPhone users, sorry, Apple has screwed you yet again). This, coupled with your status points, makes you really awesome.
P2's will always have the newest phones, with early emails/notifications of coming products that the other tiers do not receive. There are special plans available to P2's as well. Only to P2's. They require the top shelf products to qualify. So in essence, I cannot be a P2 with an inferior phone.
The P2 is your elitist. I'm a P2 in essence because I want to change phones more often. As new technology comes out I want it. I also want to assist your testing phase of new products...so you could even offer that to curious P2's.
The phones offered to the P2 need to be pure, unadulterated products with ZERO BLOATWARE and vanilla, awesome sauce OS. The best, most recent, exclusive versions you could possibly imagine. Why would a P2 leave if you give them the best treatment?
These are your iPhone, Nexus, Windows Phone Lumia customers.
So Dan, I've laid it out for you, chapter and verse. What you do with this is your decision but I assure you no other carrier has this plan. They are terrified of this.
Don't be a wimp. Be Bold. Be wise. Be different. Be the best. Provide the best.
Change the industry.
UPDATE - Looks like AT&T is thinking a little like this - http://www.theverge.com/2012/3/27/2905435/att-plus-loyalty-program-membership-discounts-no-fees
Dec 14, 2011
Aug 1, 2011
Steve Jobs will have more than 'One More Thing' to announce next month - there will be THREE new iPhone models released
Three new iPhone models. Yes, I said three.
This is the primary reason that a new iPhone was not launched on schedule.....there's more than one. Makes perfect sense.
Here they are, in order.
iPhone 4S $49 on contract (with possibly $350 off contract as a pre-paid phone)
iPhone 5 $99 on contract (possibly $149)
iPhone 5HD $199 on contract
Here’s my take and why I believe this is the truth.
The iPhone 4S
The iPhone 4S will be the existing model iPhone that is refreshed, but without the glass on the front and back; it will be a high caliber polymer. This will introduce the basic phone for $49 with contract and $350 off-contract. Tim Cook has already said they want a lower cost model phone, that Apple is not ‘for the rich only’. We’ve seen a physical concept of this already. It is real. THIS is the pictorial evidence. I believe THIS is proof of the same design elements we see in today’s iPhone 4, which makes this the iPhone 4S.
The iPhone 5
The second model is the iPhone 5, which will share the same basic size that we are used to seeing, but with totally refreshed internals and a new body shape. The major difference I believe will be the screen size will increase to between 3.7” and 4.0”. My guess is 3.7” to retain Retina Display status without going much larger. This new model might feature a metal back and might feature a tapered design, but I don’t know. I believe this model will share the same footprint as the existing model (iPhone 4), save for the depth. We’ve seen this design language all over the web. This will be the design that also introduces the gesture area (more on that later). All iPhone models will utilize the gesture area moving forward. This is also the design language for the new iTouch iPod. HERE is a source for the design. HERE is another source (I believe the second image is more accurate, not the shiny look but using a matte finish). HERE is another source. HERE is a source that shows the same 5 in the name of the phone on the back, but in font style as is seen in other leaked photos of the assembly line. This is possibly an iPhone 5 with dual cameras (if 3D is enabled). I think that the dual cameras are photo-shopped and WILL NOT appear in the new phone.
THIS is a great looking concept of the possible iPhone 5…tapered, yet with some design elements of the current generation phone…a nice blend. This is my favorite concept and I believe the closest to what we'll see within a few weeks.
The next few images are from the guys at ThisIsMyNext.com with their excellent renditions of what they believe the new iPhone 5 might look like.
They also show a tapered design, even if this is simply a rendition, it is a VERY logical look and design template for Apple to use, as it looks like a MacBook Air.
The iPhone 5HD
So the real big news (and I believe this with all that I am, only because Steve Jobs LOVES to wow everyone with his ‘One More Thing’), will be the iPhone 5HD. This phone will feature a 4.3” display to compete with Android and other offerings, made specifically for those clamoring to have the larger phone; an Apple product that competes with everyone else. So far, Apple has decided AGAINST having multiple phone offerings, but I believe that they finally realize that they HAVE to do this. It is a forced move and one that Steve Jobs will do the right way - HIS way. Leave it to Apple to find a way to make a forced move to look like a choice they wanted to make, not a lack thereof.
The single form factor and smaller screen size is why Apple is losing market share to Android daily, and the only way to combat this is to play in that size spectrum. You can’t tell me that a 3.5” display is enough when I can put a 4.3” sized display phone side by side with an iPhone - I will tell you to your face you’re 'trying to sell me lakefront property in a desert'. Consumers have choices and they are choosing someone other than Apple because they can, on top of the fact that they want to, which is what Steve Jobs fears the most. If you look at the growth curve of Android (and the possibility of WP7), Apple has no choice in this matter. They MUST respond. The biggest problem here is maintaining a Retina Display – but I BET that the new relationship they recently formed with Toshiba for iPad HD displays will be the ‘secret sauce’ supplier for the 4.3” Retina Display. PROOF of the larger dimensions. Here’s MORE proof. Here's MORE proof of the Toshiba relationship. And MORE beyond that. And even MORE.
When Apple does this, they have the possibility to sound the death toll for WP7 and most assuredly for RIM and HP. Those two (RIM/HP) will not be able to compete.
By the way, since July 2011, iPhone 5 models have been out and about in field tests. Proof of carrier testing.
The Gesture Area
This is a hotly debated topic. My belief on the ‘gesture area’ is simple, and most people are fully blowing it out of proportion and thinking way too much. I am incredibly excited for the potential it creates. I will elaborate.
1) The gesture area will replace volume controls on the phone eventually, but not yet, since a feature in iOS 5 shows the camera button is integrated with the 'up' volume control button. The rumors are spreading around that the external buttons are going away. They're not. Steve Jobs doesn’t like buttons, so while this thought of removing buttons speaks to his design preferences, the timing simply is not right. In time, I believe that the physical volume controls will give way to a dedicated camera shutter button on one side and possibly a mute switch on the other. The gesture area can suffice for bringing up the volume controls and mute among other things, but not yet. That iOS 5 shows us the camera shutter button and the volume up button share functions means 'not yet' when it comes to the actual removal of the volume keys.
2) I believe that a ‘swipe to the left’, as in a back gesture, will simply go back one move, while a ‘swipe to the right’ will bring up the control panel, allowing you the ability to use whatever elements have been installed in that template. It will be similar to clicking on the menu button on an Android handset. This makes perfect sense and makes it really easy to use and navigate, which is something that Palm built with webOS.
3) In iOS 5, the dropdowns that appear when a notification comes in is different than the original design which employs a 'pop-up notification' appearing in the middle of the screen, and this is a wise move to move away from that and make things more like the other OS's that are out there. The major problem is that the new 'drop down notification bar' will effectively hide the back and edit buttons up top, making navigation all but impossible until the drop down disappears. This is different than in webOS, where the notifications appear the the bottom of the screen, and their way does not affect navigation. So this makes the gesture area opportunity a big thing.
In essence, if you consider the logic needed to design and use the gesture area and a home button, it will need all of these elements. By allowing users to press it, it functions as an actual home button (great for existing iOS users). Swiping from left to right or right to left affords you the ability to manipulate the screen with pre-defined gestures (as previously mentioned). In almost all regards, every button except for a shutter button can be eliminated, although it makes sense from a design perspective to continue to keep a mute button.
Exisiting iOS users will find this gesture area similar to what they are used to now, with now having to move their fingers less to accomplish more (no more trips to the top of the screen to go back or edit). Android users who are used to having multiple capacitive buttons will also find this far better, as giving up the standard Android menu, home, back and search capactive funtion buttons will seem like a step backwards for them. The left to right gesture provides them the control area where they will find all of that on one screen. Smart and efficient, which is something that Android can't always claim. Pre and Pixi users will appreciate the 'nod' to webOS and will find this quite simply the right way to do it. In all, this takes the best of all worlds and places it squarely in the control of iOS and Apple. This eliminates many complaints and raises the bar yet again for Apple.
Read HERE and scroll down to Update: Thursday, July 28th to see what I am referencing. Here is PROOF of the control panel.
4) Consider the beauty that is webOS. Apple is furious that webOS still exists, but any nod to them shows the weaknesses they have to that platform, so they stay purposefully silent. So many people love webOS, yet no one has really created anything that uses gestures enough to truly kill webOS and take that beautiful design language and implement it properly in a better ecosystem. Until now. If Apple can pull off the proper use of the gesture area, I think it will genuinely HURT other OS makers, so much so that it can change the game. And we ALL KNOW that Steve Jobs LOVES to make that statement about his products.
So what are your thoughts? Do you believe that there will be more than one phone? will there be two? Or does three sound about right?
Sound off below.
Some more stuff for you to ponder:
Here’s a nice little ARTICLE stating why they believe there will be at least two models revealed.
Interesting ARTICLE discussing curved glass. I think they’re wrong. I believe that the backing is to be curved on the HD model only. Prestigious having glass on the larger model.
UPDATE - This article supports my theory that handset selection is the key to success http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/08/02/android-proves-a-clever-p_n_915699.html?ir=Technology
Jun 30, 2011
To the RIM Senior Management Team:
I have lost confidence.
While I hide it at work, my passion has been sapped. I know I am not alone — the sentiment is widespread and it includes people within your own teams.
Mike and Jim, please take the time to really absorb and digest the content of this letter because it reflects the feeling across a huge percentage of your employee base. You have many smart employees, many that have great ideas for the future, but unfortunately the culture at RIM does not allow us to speak openly without having to worry about the career-limiting effects.
Before I get into the meat of the matter, I will say I am not part of a large group of bitter employees wishing to embarrass us. Rather, I believe these points need to be heard and I desperately want RIM to regain its position as a successful industry leader. Our carriers, distributors, alliance partners, enterprise customers, and our loyal end users all want the same thing… for BlackBerry to once again be leading the pack.
We are in the middle of major “transition” and things have never been more chaotic. Almost every project is falling further and further behind schedule at a time when we absolutely must deliver great, solid products on time. We urge you to make bold decisions about our organisational structure, about our culture and most importantly our products.
While we anxiously wait to see the details of the streamlining plan, here are some suggestions:
1) Focus on the End User experience
Let’s obsess about what is best for the end user. We often make product decisions based on strategic alignment, partner requests or even legal advice — the end user doesn’t care. We simply have to admit that Apple is nailing this and it is one of the reasons they have people lining up overnight at stores around the world, and products sold out for months. These people aren’t hypnotized zombies, they simply love beautifully designed products that are user centric and work how they are supposed to work. Android has a major weakness — it will always lack the simplicity and elegance that comes with end-to-end device software, middleware and hardware control. We really have a great opportunity to build something new and “uniquely BlackBerry” with the QNX platform.
Let’s start an internal innovation revival with teams focused on what users will love instead of chasing “feature parity” and feature differentiation for no good reason (Adobe Flash being a major example). When was the last time we pushed out a significant new experience or feature that wasn’t already on other platforms?
Rather than constantly mocking iPhone and Android, we should encourage key decision makers across the board to use these products as their primary device for a week or so at a time — yes, on Exchange! This way we can understand why our users are switching and get inspiration as to how we can build our next-gen products even better! It’s incomprehensible that our top software engineers and executives aren’t using or deeply familiar with our competitor’s products.
2) Recruit Senior SW Leaders & enable decision-making
I’m going to say what everyone is thinking… We need some heavy hitters at RIM when it comes to software management. Teams still aren’t talking together properly, no one is making or can make critical decisions, all the while everyone is working crazy hours and still far behind. We are demotivated. Just look at who our major competitors are: Apple, Google & Microsoft. These are three of the biggest and most talented software companies on the planet. Then take a look at our software leadership teams in terms of what they have delivered and their past experience prior to RIM… It says everything.
3) Cut projects to the bone.
There is a serious need to consolidate our focus to just a handful of projects. Period.
We need to be disciplined here. We can’t afford any more initiatives based on carrier requests to squeeze out slightly more volume. Again, back to point #1, focus on the end users. They are the ones making both consumer & enterprise purchase decisions.
Strategy is often in the things you decide not to do.
On that note, we simply must stop shipping incomplete products that aren’t ready for the end user. It is hurting our brand tremendously. It takes guts to not allow a product to launch that may be 90% ready with a quarter end in sight, but it will pay off in the long term.
Look at Apple in 1997 for tips here. I really want you to watch this video because it has never been more relevant. It is our friend Steve Jobs in 97 and it may as well be you speaking to RIM employees and partners today.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3LEXae1j6EY
4) Developers, not Carriers can now make or break us
We urgently need to invest like we never have before in becoming developer friendly. The return will be worth every cent. There is no polite way to say this, but it’s true — BlackBerry smartphone apps suck. Even PlayBook, with all its glorious power, looks like a Fisher Price toy with its Adobe AIR/Flash apps.
Developing for BlackBerry is painful, and despite what you’ve been told, things haven’t really changed that much since Jamie Murai’s letter. Our SDK / development platform is like a rundown 1990′s Ford Explorer. Then there’s Apple, which has a shiny new BMW M3… just such a pleasure to drive. Developers want and need quality tools.
If we create great tools, we will see great work. Offer shit tools and we shouldn’t be surprised when we see shit apps.
The truth is, no one in RIM dares to tell management how bad our tools still are. Even our closest dev partners do their best to say it politely, but they will never bite the hand that feeds them. The solution? Recruit serious talent, buy SDK/API specialist companies, throw a truckload of money at it… Let’s do whatever it takes, and quickly!
5) Need for serious marketing punch to create end user desire
25 million iPad users don’t care that it doesn’t have Flash or true multitasking, so why make that a focus in our campaigns? I’ll answer that for you: it’s because that’s all that differentiates our products and its lazy marketing. I’ve never seen someone buy product B because it has something product A doesn’t have. People buy product B because they want and lust after product B.
Also an important note regarding our marketing: a product’s technical superiority does not equal desire, and therefore sales… How many Linux laptops are getting sold? How did Betamax go? My mother wants an iPad and iPhone because it is simple and appeals to her. Powerful multitasking doesn’t.
BlackBerry Messenger has been our standout, yet we wasted our marketing on strange stories from a barber shop to a horse wrangler. I promise you, this did nothing to help us in the mind of the average consumer.
We need an inventive and engaging campaign that focuses on what we are about. People buy into a brand / product not just because of features, but because of what it stands for and what it delivers to them. People don’t buy “what you do,” people buy “why you do it.” Take 3 minutes to watch the this video starting from the 2min mark: http://youtu.be/qp0HIF3SfI4
6) No Accountability – Canadians are too nice
RIM has a lot of people who underperform but still stay in their roles. No one is accountable. Where is the guy responsible for the 9530 software? Still with us, still running some important software initiative. We will never achieve excellence with this culture. Just because someone may have been a loyal RIM employee for 7 years, it doesn’t mean they are the best Manager / Director / VP for that role. It’s time to change the culture to deliver or move on and get out. We have far too many people in critical roles that fit this description. I can hear the cheers of my fellow employees now.
7) The press and analysts are pissing you off. Don’t snap. Now is the time for humility with a dash of paranoia.
The public’s questions about dual-CEOs are warranted. The partnership is not broken, but on the ground level, it is not efficient. Maybe we need our Eric Schmidt reign period.
Yes, four years ago we beat Microsoft when everyone said Windows Mobile with Direct Push in Exchange would kill us. It didn’t… in fact we grew stronger.
However, overconfidence clouds good decision-making. We missed not boldly reacting to the threat of iPhone when we saw it in January over four years ago. We laughed and said they are trying to put a computer on a phone, that it won’t work. We should have made the QNX-like transition then. We are now 3-4 years too late. That is the painful truth… it was a major strategic oversight and we know who is responsible.
Jim, in referring to our current transition recently said: “No other technology company other than Apple has successfully transitioned their platform. It’s almost never done, and it’s way harder than you realize. This transition is where tech companies go to die.”
To avoid this death, perhaps it is time to seriously consider a new, fresh thinking, experienced CEO. There is no shame in no longer being a CEO. Mike, you could focus on innovation. Jim, you could focus on our carriers/customers… They are our lifeblood.
8) Democratise. Engage and interact with your employees — please!
Reach out to all employees asking them on how we can make RIM better. Encourage input from ground-level teams—without repercussions—to seek out honest feedback and really absorb it.
Lastly, we’re all reading the news and many are extremely nervous, especially when we see people get fired. We need an injection of confidence: share your strategy and ask us for support. The headhunters have already started circling and we are at risk of losing our best people.
Now would be a great time to internally re-brand and re-energize the workplace. For example, rename the company to just “BlackBerry” to signify our new focus on one QNX product line. We should also address issues surrounding making RIM an enjoyable workplace. Some of our offices feel like Soviet-era government workplaces.
The timing is perfect to seriously evaluate at our position and make these major changes. We can do it!
A RIM Employee
An “Open Letter” to RIM’s senior management was published anonymously on the web today and it was attributed to an unnamed person described as a “’high level employee”. It is obviously difficult to address anonymous commentary and it is particularly difficult to believe that a “high level employee” in good standing with the company would choose to anonymously publish a letter on the web rather than engage their fellow executives in a constructive manner, but regardless of whether the letter is real, fake, exaggerated or written with ulterior motivations, it is fair to say that the senior management team at RIM is nonetheless fully aware of and aggressively addressing both the company’s challenges and its opportunities.
RIM recently confirmed that it is nearing the end of a major business and technology transition. Although this transition has taken longer than anticipated, there is much excitement and optimism within the company about the new products that are lined up for the coming months. There is a fundamental business reality however that following an extended period of hyper growth (during which RIM nearly quadrupled in size over the past 5 years alone), it has become necessary for the company to streamline its operations in order to allow it to grow its business profitably while pursuing newer strategic opportunities. Again, RIM’s management team takes these challenges seriously and is actively addressing the situation. The company is thankfully in a solid business and financial position to tackle the opportunities ahead with a solid balance sheet (nearly $3 billion in cash and no debt), strong profitability (RIM’s net income last quarter was $695 million) and substantial international growth (international revenue in Q1 grew 67% over the same quarter last year). In fact, while growth has slowed in the US, RIM still shipped 13.2 million BlackBerry smartphones last quarter (which is about 100 smartphones per minute, 24 hours per day) and RIM is more committed than ever to serving its loyal customers and partners around the world.
Research In Motion Ltd. will create a committee that will examine possible changes to its corporate structure, including the possibility of separating the co-chairman and co-chief executive roles of its leaders Jim Balsillie and Mike Lazaridis, after an shareholder group threatened to put forth a motion to consider the changes at the company’s forthcoming annual general meeting.
On Thursday, RIM announced that Northwest and Ethical Investments would withdraw its proposal that was due to be discussed at RIM’s AGM — which is scheduled for July 12 — that called for a policy that would divide the roles of chairman and CEO.
In exchange, RIM has agreed that RIM’s board of directors will establish a “Committee of indiependent directors” to examine several issues related to the governance of Canada’s top technology company.
“RIM and NEI Investments are pleased to have reached an agreement on this matter, and these important issues of corporate governance will receive further consideration at the RIM Board level,” the two companies said in a joint statement.
According to a release, the committee will study several issues related to RIM’s leadership structure, including the role of an independent lead director or chairman and the “necessity for RIM’s co-CEOs to have significant board level titles.”
Bring the anonymous letter, RIM, address each line to the letter with solutions, not hypotheticals.