The next youth trend in handsets will be …

… The Blackberry. Yup, you read that correctly, the Blackberry! This mainstay of mobile business email is on the verge of becoming the must-have gadged for teenagers. But surely not? What about the iphone, it’s way cooler than anything RIM has to offer? Well the iphone is cool if you are 20somthing (or 30something even) and particularly if you are a creative, media, Twitter using-type. But if you’re a teen the iphone doesn’t have much to offer (and teens don’t use Twitter anyway). For starters the iphone is pricey, only available on specific networks. What’s more, everything’s heavily tied into Apple and their itunes store. Not great if you are sharing, rather than buying music as many teenagers do.
Blackberry, on the other hand, actually has coolness amongst teens. It’s the handset of choice for Paris Hilton (bright pink and covered in Sorowski crystals) and the cast of Gossip Girl. Its strange how Apple Macs are always the computer of choice in films and television, but the iphone has not made the grade. Maybe it came too late, or maybe Blackberry just did a better job of product placement.
The other thing that RIM have going for them is the killer app for teenagers. But its not a game nor a camera. Its their instant messaging application ‘BBM‘. It’s fast, simple and free (if you have a data package). You can copy and paste conversations, send them on anonymously and best of all you can quickly change your screen name to become undetected to people. The other advantage of the Blackberry is the QWERTY keyboard, which can be used with two hands. Considerable faster than the iphone’s touch keypad. An essential consideration in the world of teenage communication. That’s also the point. For teenagers communication is as important as entertainment. Facebook’s success in the teenage market has been helped by status updates and spam free messaging.
What is also interesting is the way that teenagers are rapidly adopting a business tool for their own purposes, in much the same way that teenagers adopted SMS a decade ago. Text messaging was seen as a business tool, but the younger demographic encouraged by the low cost, saw SMS as the perfect tool.

For more on this, see the article at http://www.mobile-ent.biz/news/35751/Why-do-kids-love-Blackberry#after_ad
There is an interesting paper by MIT on the whole subject of youth and identity here: http://www.mitpressjournals.org/doi/pdf/10.1162/dmal.9780262524834.143

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5 thoughts on “The next youth trend in handsets will be …

  1. What I don’t understand is why Blackberrie hasn’t exploited this market. I’ve known this for some time and I’ve hardly got my ‘finger on the trigger’. Puzzling really.

    • There has been a long-standing tradition of mobile operators and handset manufacturers failing to understand their market. They never saw the explosition in SMS. they thought we’d all be making video calls and Nokia were convinced we’d want their ‘Comes with Music.’ They tend to be led by engineering and technology, not by users.

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