BlackBerry CEO assails T-Mobile US promo as 'ill-conceived'

TORONTO Tue Feb 18, 2014 6:42pm EST

A Blackberry logo is seen at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch

A Blackberry logo is seen at the Blackberry campus in Waterloo, September 23, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Mark Blinch

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TORONTO (Reuters) - BlackBerry Ltd Chief Executive John Chen fired a salvo at T-Mobile US Inc on Tuesday, calling ill-conceived a promotion run by the company that encourages customers using BlackBerry smartphones to upgrade to iPhones.

T-Mobile US, which is majority owned by Deutsche Telekom AG, sent out emails to some of its customers last week, pitching free iPhone 5s and touting the promotion as a, "great offer for BlackBerry customers."

That sparked a brouhaha in social media forums after some of the telecommunications company's loyal BlackBerry customers reacted angrily to the offer, which they perceived as a slight.

The backlash prompted T-Mobile US Chief Executive John Legere to respond publicly. In a Twitter posting on Sunday, Legere said T-Mobile would continue to support BlackBerry smartphones and he assured BlackBerry users they do not have to give up their devices or "loyalty."

In a blog post on Tuesday, BlackBerry CEO Chen slammed the T-Mobile US offer as a, "clearly inappropriate and ill-conceived marketing promotion," and he thanked BlackBerry users for their loyalty to the company.

"Your partnership with our brand is appreciated by all of us at BlackBerry, and draws a sharp contrast with the behavior of our longtime business partner," Chen said in the posting, noting that T-Mobile had not discussed its promotion with BlackBerry.

T-Mobile US later said it is happy to work with BlackBerry and will by Friday offer speedy and free shipping of BlackBerry devices to T-Mobile customers who order them.

BlackBerry, a one-time pioneer in the smartphone industry, has been struggling to claw back market share lost to Apple Inc's iPhone, Samsung Electronics Co Ltd's Galaxy devices, and other smartphones powered by Google Inc's Android operating system.

The Waterloo, Ontario-based company's new line of BlackBerry 10 devices has so far failed to win back market share, and Chen is attempting to reshape the company and focus less on the handset segment, and more on the company's services business.

Chen has stressed, however, that the handset business remains a core component for BlackBerry as the company attempts to engineer a turnaround.

Chen called on T-Mobile US to "find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again."

(Reporting by Euan Rocha; Editing by Peter Galloway and Andre Grenon)

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Comments (2)
BernieBBBBB wrote:
“he thanked BlackBerry users for their loyalty to the company” – A company shouldn’t rely on loyalty, it should provide good products and a good service and earn customers.
Loyalty doesn’t win new customers so the fact that they are relying on it does not bode well for their future.
Blackberry should switch to android quickly before it’s too late.

Feb 19, 2014 8:18am EST  --  Report as abuse
Wokkawokka1 wrote:
T-Mobile –

You send an e-mail to me to basically “dump Blackberry” for a stupid I-phone?
How about you don’t dictate what I should and should NOT buy.
Ive been with T-mobile for 8 years and am a loyal Blackberry user. I find it pathetic at your attempt to come off as a now “edgy” company.

Lets go back how many years (not long) when T-mobile was a nobody. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. Crappy service, lame phones and terrible overall service. Customers like myself saved your companies ass and stuck by you. Paying over $30,000 to your damn company ONLY to get a slap in the face about dumping Blackberry?

Maybe you should check your strategy and realize the many thousands of customers who still use Blackberry and those who been with you for so long.
Without us, your no one. Don’t get too cocky now. The I-phone isn’t all that, nor are your Android phones either. The only place that gives me piece at this point is buying “new” phones from Craigslist. Cause in all honesty, I would NEVER at this point buy a phone from T-mobile.

Bring Blackberry back or consider our business relationship finished.

P.S. Have you ever heard of the “trickle down effect”

Sincerely,

Feb 24, 2014 6:37pm EST  --  Report as abuse
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