Confession time. I used to own a BlackBerry. Three in fact. And I loved them. It feels good to say it, so I’ll say it again. I LOVED MY BLACKBERRY. You won’t hear it much because it isn’t cool to even think that any more. It’s like listing an AOL account on your resume or mispronouncing Hyundai. You should just know better. Today execs all over America text their families on their personal iPhones over lunch while putting their company mandated BlackBerries in their waist holsters. BlackBerries have become the corporate technology captor but none of their users are developing Stockholm syndrome anymore.
There have been some big pieces of news around BlackBerry and RIM recently – the “RIM = RIP” headlines have been writing themselves for a while now and so it was proven as the kooky Canadians who felt the need to put a holding company between their marquee BlackBerry brand and the customer did what we all hoped and just let it fade away. They wouldn’t be the first holding company in history whose sole job was to obfuscate, but most of those are headquartered in the Caymans and get investigated in Tom Cruise movies. So all you lucky RIM stock owners who have lost north of 60% of your portfolio value can check out the new BBRY ticker and pin your hopes and dreams on the fact that the same team that brought you RIM might, maybe, maybe have a plan.
And they might.
Their plan looks like being one that leads with the brand and acknowledges the customer for once. They plan to make you fall in love with their phones again. By committing to BlackBerry they are sending a message. No more distractions, no more shenanigans, no more hiding behind a meaningless acronym – let’s get back to making some of the most business friendly hardware around. The new BlackBerry Z10 is getting rave reviews for putting the user at its core (ahem) and providing an extremely productivity friendly tool to get things done. That sounds a lot more like the BlackBerry I fell in love with.
What’s more remarkable is that this single mindedness is happening at a time when distraction is so easy to come by. Those at CES and readers of tech journos will appreciate the overuse of the words “innovation,” “ecosystem” and “connected” recently and that is only going to continue. Everyone from Huawei to Polaroid to the networks to Google are trying to own the customer’s connected digital life and the noise there is deafening. It is therefore actually quite refreshing to see the newly minted BlackBerry company understand the need to retrench, rebuild credibility through their products and help us fall in love with the BlackBerry brand again via their new devices.
There’s room for artists who make just one beautiful thing. Maybe BlackBerry, by getting back to what made them famous in the first place, can earn a place in our hearts again.
Hugh Tallents is a Senior Director of Strategy at Interbrand New York.