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Research in Motion feels the squeeze as it searches for a new US shop for BlackBerry

Is the smartphone market the most competitive in the world? It’s beginning to look that way as manufacturers across the world try to catch up with Apple’s iPhone and Google’s open access Android system dominates elsewhere.

Nokia has already been caught in this nasty pincer, losing its once dominant market share and now Canadian firm Research in Motion is feeling the pinch as it searches for a new US agency after parting company with Leo Burnett.

It’s not clear whether BlackBerry fired Burnett or the Publicis Groupe-owned agency decided to concentrate on its Samsung business (as it claims).

Samsung is certainly a heavyweight competitor to BlackBerry and will become more of one as it introduces its range of mini-tablet phones through December and into next year.

BlackBerry rose to prominence through its email expertise, becoming the favourite of executives across the world who wanted to show how on the ball they were (it’s estimated that WPP’s Sir Martin Sorrell takes less than a minute to reply to an email, from anyone).

But now nearly all phones offer decent basic email and the battleground is big computer-like screens and apps, IPhone’s chosen territory.

The launch of the new BlackBerry Torch has been successful but Research in Motion has had to hike its US ad budget from just over $100m a year to nearly $200m in a year.

So it’s a big prize for someone (maybe one of keen user Sir Martin’s agencies) although Research in Motion has a reputation as a tricky client, swearing its agencies to silence about its activities and demanding that its entire roster work as a team.

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The very notion.

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