Vodafone's new BlackBerry Freebee has landed. Are BB fans the most loyal phone customers in the world?

Want to hear an interesting fact? In 2011, comScore’s MobiLens report revealed that BlackBerry customers are more loyal than all other smartphone fans. A huge 69.9 per cent of BlackBerry owners would choose another one when the time came, which, according to the report, is up to three times higher than some other device manufacturers.

Numbers like that are exactly why Thorsten Heins (CEO of RIM, which makes BlackBerry phones), described BlackBerry’s 80 million fans as “very loyal” at last month’s BlackBerry Jam. And it’s also why we’ve launched Vodafone BlackBerry Freebee – our new Pay as you go Freebee tailored around you and your way of living. Want to know more? Read on for the full story…

The story behind your new Freebee

Do you love your BlackBerry? Or are you thinking of getting one? Or, just maybe, you’re expecting one of the little powerhouses to drop down the chimney later this month? Whatever the case, we’ve got some really good news: Vodafone has just launched BlackBerry Freebee, a loyalty scheme built just for you. Why? Well, because it turns out that BlackBerry owners really, really love their BlackBerrys.

“Vodafone has just launched BlackBerry Freebee, a loyalty scheme built just for you”

To explain, we bagged a chat with Sten Van Der Ham, Vodafone’s head of Pay as you go.

“In November 2010, we launched Vodafone Freebees to reward customers every time they top up with loads of minutes, tons of texts or extra internet,” explains Sten. “It’s been hugely successful, but we felt that we were missing an important segment of our Pay as you go customers. We decided we needed to do something special around BlackBerry to create more appeal.”

But Sten says that showing BlackBerry Pay as you go customers some more love at Vodafone isn’t just a spur of the moment thing: it’s taken a while to get all the pieces to fit together. “What we wanted to do was to make BlackBerry devices more prominent in Vodafone’s Pay as you go range, and then to create a specific BlackBerry Freebee so that every time customers top up they get free BlackBerry services, which help them keep in touch and extend their connections through the web, multimedia and the very popular BBM app.”

“We’ve been working very closely with BlackBerry, getting exclusive BlackBerry devices and now launching BlackBerry Freebee.”

“With the Vodafone BlackBerry Freebee,” says Sten, “every time you top up with £10 you get BlackBerry services and an extra 100MB of data included, for 30 days. It’s great value.”

Messaging and mischief

But it’s not just the loyalty of BlackBerry fans that means they deserve something special. Through our research we’ve discovered that BlackBerry owners actually have different needs to those with other phones.

“I think BlackBerrys are the best at everything related to messaging – whether it’s texting, email or BBM”

“BlackBerry users tend to call less,” Sten explains. “The key things BlackBerry fans are looking for are BBM, which provides free messaging among BlackBerry users, and a physical keyboard.” Sten believes that this is what sets BlackBerrys apart from every other type of phone. “I think BlackBerrys are the best at everything related to messaging – whether it’s texting, email or BBM.

“That’s the power of BlackBerry – the combination of BBM and a QWERTY keyboard.”

That keyboard’s great for business users who have to fire out reams of emails every day, but guess what? It’s also perfect for younger users, as Sten explains.

“One funny insight we’ve heard time and time again from our research,” says Sten, “is that with touchscreen phones it’s much more difficult to text each other in school, under your desk.”

…Not that we condone that sort of thing, of course.

The most powerful BlackBerry fan of all

OK, so BlackBerrys are loved by both business and casual users alike, but did you know that RIM’s devices also have another unlikely follower stationed inside the White House? It’s true. In 2008, BlackBerry’s most influential admirer said this:

“I’m still clinging to my BlackBerry. They’re going to pry it out of my hands.”

Those were the words that ensured Barack Obama became the first President of the United States of America to openly declare their love for a smartphone, and the words that made him the world’s most powerful BlackBerry fan.

“Did you know that RIM’s devices also have another unlikely follower stationed inside the White House?”

Four years on, having just been re-elected, Obama’s just as dedicated to his BlackBerry. In September this year, he told members of the press: “I still have a BlackBerry” when struggling to use a touchscreen phone for a public conference.  He has his attached to his belt at all times, and uses his beloved BlackBerry for everything from catching up on news to keeping his diary in order.

And thanks to the QWERTY keyboard that Sten mentioned, he’s an expert typist, too. According to the New York Times, “his messages to advisers and friends are generally crisp, properly spelled and free of symbols or emoticons.” Sadly though, there’s no word on whether Mr Obama can do the same from under a school desk.

So is Barack Obama world’s most loyal BlackBerry fan? Or is that you? Either way, the new Vodafone BlackBerry Freebee will reward your allegiance. To find out more, head to vodafone.co.uk/get-blackberry