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BlackBerry not good enough for Mercedes

Mercedes-Benz staff were quite candid about not making the app for BlackBerry because it would have taken too long, cost too much and ultimately not have been worth it.


This week marks the launch of a new mobile app/game from Mercedes-Benz Canada wherein one lucky user will score a new 2012 C-Class Coupe car. The Drive & Seek app, which was shown off to a small group of us journalists in Toronto last week, is a nifty piece of software that is designed to expose the luxury car maker’s brand to younger potential customers by giving them a game-like contest to take part in.

The way it works is that each week for the next four weeks, the app will unlock 10 virtual “briefcases,” which are randomly generated locations usually within 100 meters of the user. The phone directs users to the location of a briefcase using a compass and distance meter. When the user finds the location, they score some points, get information about the C-Class Coupe and unlock the next briefcase. The more briefcases that are found, the more points the player scores. The more points they have at the end of the month, the more entries they get in the drawing for the car.

Mercedes-Benz says there will be some secondary prizes, such as sunglasses and watches. The company also expects about 125 people to score full points, which means the odds of winning the car look pretty good to anyone who can devote themselves to finding all 40 briefcases. Of course, because the draw is random, the winner could also turn out to be someone who unlocked just one.

What a number of us found most interesting at the presentation was the fact that the app is only available for iPhone and Android devices. Indeed, Mercedes-Benz staff were quite candid about not making the app—which features fluid graphics and animations—available for BlackBerry because it would have taken too long, cost too much and ultimately not have been worth it. “It’s tough to deliver that kind of experience on a BlackBerry,” an executive said.

On some levels, the decision makes sense. After all, the people most likely to own a BlackBerry—power business users—are also the most likely to already own a Mercedes; they probably don’t need to enter a contest to win a free car. Such people are also the most unlikely to spend time on such a game, given that they’re probably tied up in important meetings or running a company all day, and so on.

However, the decision to avoid BlackBerry is also very telling—for one luxury brand to forsake another in favour of its supposedly lower-crust competitors is nothing short of a slap in the face. Mercedes is effectively saying that BlackBerry isn’t worth the trouble, especially if the key message is to spread its brand to young people. Ouch.

It’s no wonder BlackBerry maker Research In Motion is in an absolute free fall. The Waterloo, Ont.-based company reported dismal quarterly results last week, leading many to suggest RIM is done. When some of the most important brands in the world don’t even bother with your devices, that’s not too far from the truth.