Image via WikipediaThe Etisalat BlackBerry update story has started to grow little legs now, with the coverage from Gulf News and ITP.net yesterday joined today by a story from The National and a GN followup. Both of today's UAE dailies focus on the irritation of subscribers and the silence of Etisalat, an angle that The National, in particular, highlights:
"Etisalat does not lack the ability to talk to the public. It is one of the UAE’s largest advertisers and it would be difficult to spend a day without seeing one of its promotions in print or on television. Its public relations machine is well oiled, putting out press releases daily..." says reporter Tom Gara before launching into an entertaining, if slightly surreal, series of nautical metaphors spanking the uncommunicative communications company.
Now coverage has gone international, with stories from Wired and from the UK's rightly feared (or revered, depending on which side of the industry fence you sit on. Rather marvellously, its tagline is 'Biting the hand that feeds IT') The Register.
It is, yes, a wee social media case study, this one. A single user posts some stuff he found on a specialist forum, triggering the swift passing of that information among a frustrated customer base that is being poorly communicated with. The news is examined, refined and passed on again, a great deal of that traffic going via Twitter BTW, and now it's going wild. Many media reports internationally are focusing on one or two media reports locally - the role of a single Qatari software expert being key right now in the coverage from 'mainstream' media as it is picked up by media outlets. In fact, both Wired and The Register covered the story from ITP.Net. And now uber-blog engadget has covered it from The Register. And if that isn't as bad as ReTweeting, I don't know what is!
Now major international technology media outlets are repeating a story based on the stated views of one man following his comments on a local blog. Scary, in its way. I'm not denigrating that expert, BTW: Nigel (and original discoverer DXBLouie) are both chaps that certainly appear to know a great deal about what they're talking about - as does Steve Halzinski, whose post on BlackBerrycool here still contains his considered view on the nature of the 'network update' that apparently forced BlackBerries into meltdown as they scrambled to contact an overloaded server.
News expands to fill a vacuum. Particularly a social vacuum. For what it's worth, my prediction is that this story will grow - Etisalat really needs to fill that vacuum before it does, although I suspect that by now the genie is well and truly out of the bottle.