Blackberry: The Phone of the Rich

by Matt Klassen on September 27, 2011

While it may come as a surprise to some, there is one demographic that still relies heavily on its jewel-encrusted Blackberry phones…the rich. In a study produced by Prosper Mobile Insights (PDF), a strong correlation was found between households that indicated a high total income (100,000+/year) and the usage of RIM’s fading Blackberry devices.

For many this relationship has a simple explanation, the Blackberry is still the best choice for those who are no longer simply keeping up with the Joneses, but who have left them far behind in their wake. Its simple and secure email functions combined with its external keyboard and business integration tools make it the ideal choice for the wealthy elite.

Unfortunately for RIM, however, the wealthy elite still pay the same regular price for their phones as the rest of us peons, meaning that unless the rich start ordering expensive gold-plated, diamond-encrusted Blackberry’s en masse, it’s unlikely that they will ever be able to help RIM’s bottom line.

So how do the other mobile operating systems stack up?

Before we get to the numbers relating to Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android, what I find interesting is that among the “rich”—with a reported household income of over $150,000—less than 30 percent of respondents indicated that they used one of the three mobile operating systems in question (Blackberry, Apple, Android), which for me begs the question, do the rich get access to some other mobile operating system that we know nothing about?

Joking aside, the study found RIM’s Blackberry was the first choice of both the 100,000-149,999 (21%) and the 150,000+ (11.3%) demographics, with Apple coming in a relatively close second in both categories. Beyond the numbers, however, it’s interesting to see what this report says about how our mobile choices relate to both the lifestyle we are living and the one we want to live.

Seeing Blackberry rank first in popularity among the wealthy elite really comes as no surprise to me, as its simple and straightforward design, its safe and secure encryption, and its affordable and reliable messaging make it the ideal choice for those who simply want a device that will help them succeed. While I gaze at that income demographic from quite a distance, it does strike me as being well-populated with people who can do without all the mobile frills and gimmicks.

In the moderately wealthy category ($75,000-99,999) we find the home of Apple’s iPhone. While the device clearly has some appeal in the higher income demographics, its here in the middle where we find the iPhone top the list. Again, in this demographic we generally find hard working people, many of whom dream of attaining that silver spoon, and its to these people that Apple masterfully markets itself. With promises of an advanced, integrative, and intuitive technological lifestyle, Apple promotes and prices its devices to those that dream of something more, but may not have the resources to attain it.

Finally we have Google’s Android OS, which according to this study seems to be distinctly the poor man’s OS (perhaps the reason I currently have an Android phone). Despite sporting some of the market’s most powerful mobile devices, the little Droid that could was a distinct third in all income brackets accept for the lowest, (15,000-74,999) where it ranked number one.

Clearly without the product mark-up generated from expensive OS licensing agreements, Android phones are generally the most affordable, but issues with fragmentation and security make them undesirable choices for those who can afford something better.

In the end, our mobile choices are becoming increasingly indicative of the lives we want to live; whether we’re losing ourselves in Apple’s dreams of an advanced technological lifestyle, buying in to Android’s affordable power, or simply making money with Blackberry…or maybe it’s all just statistical nonsense.

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Written by: Matt Klassen. www.digitcom.ca. Follow TheTelecomBlog.com by: RSS, Twitter, Facebook, or YouTube.

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