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Abstract

The mobile device market can be a challenging business environment for companies because of the competition and dynamic consumer preferences. Companies manufacturing mobile devices have had to invest heavily in research and development, together with rigorous marketing strategies, to stay ahead of the expectations. Strategies that can help such companies to stay in business have included strong marketing strategies, better and appealing products, good management practices, and a pool of well experienced and skilled employees in all of their departments. Marketing strategies for technology companies also include better differentiation and positioning strategies that mainly aim to brand the company’s products as a household name in the manufacture of mobile devices. This paper outlines different strategies that are used by Research in Motion to remain a company of choice for their famous BlackBerry devices before the entry of Apple’s iPhone range of products.

Keywords: research in motion, marketing, differentiation, positioning, strategy

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Introduction

In the last 10 years, the increased competition in mobile technology has been an indication that technology companies like Research in Motion (RIM), Apple, Samsung, Nokia, and Motorola among others have to implement better strategies if they want to survive in the industry. Several factors including consumer preferences, dynamic mobile technologies, and diverse functionality mean that manufacturing companies will have to spend much of their time and money investing in research and development.

As the trend in consumer preferences indicates, differentiation and positioning of the company’s product is going to play an essential role in branding a particular company’s products as a choice among many competing products on the market. Both differentiation and positioning strategies are aimed at increasing the business visibility and preference to the clients.

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Differentiation is a generic strategy that health institutions can use to have greater competitive advantage and increase their market share. The characteristics of such a strategy may include high quality and superior products which are distinct in design and taste. Differentiation has mainly two purposes to accomplish. The first purpose is to give customers a good reason to choose services from a particular company as opposed to the competitor; the second purpose is to attract a premium charge on products provided by the company. Differentiation is mainly based on the principle that consumers are always willing to pay extra cash for application devices which they consider superior and of high quality (Kotler, Berger, & Bickhoff, 2010). This paper examines different strategies used by RIM to market its BlackBerry devices to consumers in North America and the rest of the world.

RIM has had to circumvent a number of obstacles to make its products appeal to consumers. The competition among software and hardware manufacturers means that the company has to collaborate with like-minded companies to provide software and hardware that are required to manufacture its products. Also, the collaboration has been initiated with network carriers to sell RIM products at subsidized rates. This was, however, supposed to be done carefully to avoid transfer of consumers to other networks, which would imply that RIM and the collaborating network carrier might lose the market share. Several factors have influenced the decision to collaborate with network carriers, with one of them being reliability of the network. Different application features that the company added to the device were instrumental in ensuring that consumers are locked in within the products. The inclusion of features like QWERTY keyboards and push email features were also used as diversification strategies targeting high-end consumers such as enterprises and business people.

Market Segmentation

Strategic differentiation of products by RIM was first done through segmentation of the target market. The sensitive consumer segment would definitely cause a drop in prices of the products. The consumer segment prefers low-priced products, although they could also seek smartphones with added features. Segmentation of this type is influenced by the preferences that consumers attach to the features and functionality of the products.

Within the consumer segment there is also a subset of consumers who want cheaper products with enhanced functionality.  However, the demand from the market can effectively contribute to increased research and design of products that are sophisticated and appealing to potential consumers who have not yet switched to using the company’s products. For RIM, most consumers would prefer to have a technologically advanced mobile device with added features, while at the same time not willing to use the already existing features. This is definitely a challenge to the design team; thus, much investment has been put in research and development to come with products that would satisfy the dynamic taste of consumers for cellular telephones quality (Kotler, Berger, & Bickhoff, 2010).

Another important segment in mobile device manufacture is the enterprise segment whose great concern is application features and the ability of the mobile device to assist in daily activities within a business setup. Enterprise consumers buy products based on researched, approved, paid for, and supported devices for the purposes of using them as business solution tools in their work. Most of the time, enterprise consumers will be controlled by their information technology departments that approve the security features of the devices and highlight the functionality to which the device will be used, for instance, email and data communication and the general access to the enterprise’s network. As such, design and manufacture of mobile devices targeting such a group must focus on check points such as security, data integration, and reliability between communicating devices.

Another segment is the prosumer which combines preferences from the consumer segment and the enterprise segment. More often, prosumers purchase products for their own improvement in productivity at their place of work or buy the product because the company has subsidized the prices and expects the employees to use the products in their work. Thus, this segment values reliability, availability of business applications, and multi-functionality so that they need fewer devices (Peter & Donnelly, 2011).

Positioning, on the other hand, is a strategy used by mobile manufacturing companies to manipulate their image in the presence of their targeted clients. This might include measures like individual branding as either a low-cost company or a high-cost company depending on the market that the company is targeting. For RIM products, the market segments located in upscale areas offer services with a higher premium compared to those located in lower scale areas. Some companies such as Nokia and Apple have managed to capitalize on their strength of worldwide presence and launched competitive mobile devices, which RIM has launched in North America and which would position its products in both areas and charge differently depending on the income scale of the targeted segment in the targeted area.

As such, RIM has positioned its products intentionally to meet the requirements and expectations of different clients. The positioning is built on the concept that a company must be able to provide something to everyone regardless of their financial status. As far as the RIM business model is concerned, the two marketing strategies are connected by the fact that positioning precedes differentiation (Peter & Donnelly, 2011).  For instance, RIM first differentiated its products by providing high quality mobile devices such as the BlackBerry brand in different market segments before positioning itself in the minds of consumers as a high or low level mobile manufacturing company.

The company has also sought to compete with other manufacturing companies by diversifying its line of products including BlackBerry Wireless, BlackBerry Subscribers, Software Development Tools, and Licensing. As a manufacturing company, RIM has also had to start with clear policies in its culture, control, and human resources within its manufacturing plants. This is aimed at ensuring that hindrances and obstacles for rapid penetration in the market are resolved right from within before going out to appeal to customers with their products as a high quality manufacturing company whose products can be relied on for security and efficiency. The ultimate purpose of having a well-designed product on the market is to preserve the market share that RIM has been enjoying and manage the threat of entry of competitors such as Apple by offering more advanced and improved functionality devices like iPhones. In conclusion, RIM has a well laid-out strategy to manufacture high quality, diversified, and well-differentiated products. 

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