Research In Motion Ltd.’s BlackBerry has become indispensable among executives for its easy-to-use messaging service. That same feature is attracting looters in Britain’s worst rioting since the 1980s.
Some rioters have used the free BlackBerry Messenger to organise, police said, leading to calls for the service to be suspended. The link between the unrest and the device may hurt the BlackBerry brand, said Jonathan Akwue, a director at the social media unit of London-based Engine Group, a marketing firm whose clients include Coca-Cola Co. and Sony Corp.
“The association is negative, and they’ve been blamed for it,” Akwue said.
The prevalence of the devices among looters has led to a more than 300-fold increase in online mentions of the messenger service in relation to riots, with a third of those classified as negative and 3% as positive, according to researcher Brandwatch, which also monitors Twitter and Facebook.
BBM was cited 27,000 times on August 6 in online references, rising to 31,000 on August 8, according to Brandwatch.
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