Thursday, February 20, 2014

T-Mobile's apology to BlackBerry isn't really an apology, still promotes alternatives

After being blasted by BlackBerry loyalists and BlackBerry's new CEO John Chen over a promotion which urged BlackBerry users to upgrade to the iPhone 5s for no money down, The Verge reported on Wednesday that T-Mobile USA has issued an apology -- of sorts.

Now BlackBerry is offering a new promotion. Starting Friday, T-Mobile BlackBerry users who want to upgrade will receive $250 toward any BlackBerry phone, or $200 toward any other manufacturer's phone -- in T-Mobile stores. A blog post, from T-Mobile USA CMO Mike Sievert, says:
Starting this Friday, we’re offering $200 credit toward a new device when you trade in your current BlackBerry and upgrade to one of the latest, greatest devices. Purchase any device we offer at T-Mobile. It’s that simple. Bring in your old, working BlackBerry and we’ll give you $200 toward a new BlackBerry or any of our other state-of-the-art smartphones. In addition, for those existing T-Mobile BlackBerry customers trading-in and choosing a new BlackBerry Q10 or Z10, we're offering an ADDITIONAL $50 off the purchase price of that new BlackBerry. These offers will be available for a limited time.
There are a couple of things about that offer that stand out. First, while upgrades to a new BB do get an extra $50 over any other device manufacturers' products, $50 isn't that much, and it still gives upgrades to the aforementioned iPhone 5s a $200 bonus.  It even expands the program past the original 5s so, if a customer wanted, they could get the same deal on say, a Samsung Galaxy Note 3.

So, while giving BB its due, this doesn't really sound like a great apology. Neither does this portion of Sievert's blog post:
Yesterday BlackBerry CEO John Chen posted a blog criticizing T-Mobile's marketing to BlackBerry users. The premise of his article was that it's best for customers if we restrict the free flow of information and limit consumer choice. At T-Mobile we totally reject that premise.

Meanwhile, though, Sievert mentions a "new" Q10 or Z10. At the time of this writing, T-Mobile USA shows only the Q10 -- in refurbished form -- available for online order. We assume that will change before Friday.

When T-Mobile USA announced the prior promotion, not only did BlackBerry fans blast T-Mobile USA CEO John Legere on social media, Chen issued a blog post that was, at times, scathing. He directed a paragraph directly at T-Mobile USA:
I would like to remind you (T-Mobile) that our long-standing partnership was once productive and profitable for both BlackBerry and T-Mobile. I hope we can find a way forward that allows us to serve our shared customers once again. Notwithstanding the current challenge, we remain very excited about BlackBerry’s future.

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