Have UK rioters changed the face of the mobile marketplace?

It’s been a turbulent and trying week in the UK, we have seen rioters taking to the streets in their hundreds followed swiftly by those wishing to reclaim the streets.

Thankfully order seems to have been returned to our streets but one of the overriding things many will remember is the role of the smartphone in the riots. The riots and the events of the days following, beg me to ask the question: have the rioters unwittingly changed the face of the mobile marketplace?

You may argue that I am being a little dramatic however, the recent riots in were for Research in Motion (RIM), makers of BlackBerry, a PR disaster. To explain let me first run through what has occurred over this week;

  • On Tuesday London awoke to news that BlackBerry’s free instant messaging service may have been used to organise much of the wanton destruction. Many PR specialists believed that the connection of BlackBerry to the riots caused huge damage to their brand image which could prove irrevocable.
  • BlackBerry acted quickly stating that they would help the police in any way they could to track down those responsible. Patrick Spence, the managing director regional marketing at Research In Motion (RIM) stated “We feel for those impacted by the riots in London. We have engaged with the authorities to assist in any way we can”. He added that RIM complies with UK legislation on the interception of communication and co-operates fully with the Home Office.
  • Wednesday saw the vandalism of the RIM website by hacker group ‘TeaMpoisoN’ who promised to punish RIM if they work with the UK police.

The ethical debate currently rages on whether RIM should help the authorities or not. Whatever RIM chose to do it seems that their brand has taken a battering and that this could in turn cause a significant decline in their market share.

This week RIM was rocked by a PR a nightmare which no one could have predicted, to me this simply highlights what a volatile and ever changing marketplace smartphones exist in. As I have previously discussed in the world of the smartphone no one knows what lies around the corner.

We all know that technological advancements change the face of the market quite regularly but what is becoming clear as Smartphones continue to permeate every facet of our lives, is that the way in which those devices are used and other factors outside the control of the makers could change the face of the marketplace overnight.

So choose your platform wisely but be warned todays news is as always tomorrows chip wrapping.

Ending on a positive note, security features of RIM technology can definitely not be questioned, with police forces unable to hack the instant messaging thus requiring the assistance of RIM to access, businesses can rest easy knowing that the RIM technology is highly secure.

David Akka is Managing Director at Magic Software Enterprises UK. David is a successful executive manager with a proven track record as a general manager with a strong background in sales, marketing, business development and operations. Past experience in technology and service delivery include both UK and European responsibilities.