RIM To Offer Free Calls On BlackBerry Smartphones. Thoughtful Strategy Or Desperate Attempt?

Research In Motion (RIM), the manufacturer of BlackBerry smartphones will soon allow phone owners to make free voice calls over WiFi. BlackBerry smartphones have been enjoying a very wide adoption rate thanks to the sudden spurt in the usage of its messenger service.  Hence the free calls will be run over its existent BlackBerry Messenger (BBM) service.

Won’t Telecom companies get upset?

Blackberry smartphones are already sold in huge numbers under various contractual agreements with multitude of mobile service providers. These mobile companies often bundle the smartphones with Blackberry Internet Service (BIS) & unlimited BBM messaging. Hence customers get a discounted handset with data services while telecom service providers get long-term customers. RIM risks upsetting not just these service providers, but everyone else in general. Free calls over WiFi, means the revenue via regular GSM network takes a massive hit.

Circumventing the possible problem & preventing an embargo, RIM has restricted the free calls only via WiFi & that too on its BBM network. No free calls over existent 3G networks are being allowed.

Blackberry has been facing customer erosion for quite some time. Its arch rival iPhone has been grabbing market share & quite recently it even dethroned RIM on its home-ground Canada. Under such tough circumstances, we assume it is obvious the company has to do something radical to prevent going into oblivion.

Offering free calls seems like a great way to attract user attention. However, even in this space, owing to the curtailed usage policy, BlackBerry faces competition. Messaging services like Nimbuzz, WeChat & even the native GTalk all support Voice & Video calls to users within their network. Additionally, owing to their flexibility, they work on multiple OSes like iOS & Android & even support interaction over 3G networks.

Loyalty of customers to BBM has allowed RIM to hold on to some market share. Will this perk be enough to attract new customer that the company is so desperately seeking?

Images Courtesy |  blackberryempire

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