- This was originally published on April 4, 2012.
I was warned recently about the impending death of my “beloved” BlackBerry. While it’s true BlackBerry’s parent company RIM is in trouble, BlackBerry doesn’t look like going anywhere soon. And while I’ve had BB handsets for the past four years or so, I wouldn’t describe my feelings for them in terms of love…
Reports state RIM is moving away from consumer in favour of corporate (its Enterprise business customers). But in typical confused RIM fashion, another spokesperson (no less than RIM’s Alec Saunders, the company’s vice president of developer relations) has come out and said the remarks were misinterpreted.
As Gizmodo points out, this probably means that RIM is “ditching the cheap kiddy models to focus on the high-end power users that don’t set rubbish bins on fire out of boredom.” Or does it?
I don’t think RIM has any intention of leaving the consumer market. To do so would further damage an already ailing brand. While they received (undue) criticism for BlackBerry Messenger’s “involvement” with the London riots, they also stand to cynically benefit from the “hoodie effect” – where the mass media’s demonisation of a hitherto innocent object imbues the object with street cred.
I imagine sales of the cheaper BB handsets with their BBM service have improved since the England Riots, as they’re seen as a rebellious anti-police tool and, rather perversely, an anti-establishment luxury item.
This edgy image will probably be further bolstered by today’s news that at a BlackBerry party in London, someone has been glassed. (Aside: please, American reporters, don’t use the word “stabbed” in this case. Brits have invented special verbs for injuring people with different things.)
A man in his 30s has been injured in the neck with a broken bottle, during a scrum to leave the South London nightclub Pulse, where BlackBerry were hosting a party. Apparently the rush was to get out via the cloakroom, rather than a negative reaction to the music of Jessie J, who had just finished performing.
Aside from the monumental stupidity of a PR team who think it’s a good idea to organise a BlackBerry party for the yoot’ with free booze in South London, the soiree was attended by journalists, “celebrities”, some cardboard rappers who I’m not familiar with, stars of The Only Way Is Essex, and BlackBerry competition winners. With a concept and guestlist like that, I’d want to GTFO of there as soon as possible, too.
My favourite anguished middle-class quote comes from Channel 4 News’s technology journalist Benjamin Cohen: “People were crying and quite a lot were being sick, whether from the blood or the alcohol. A lot of people here were teen users of BlackBerry who don’t seem to have had a free drink before.”
He’s also apparently said it’s “atrocious” for BlackBerry, but I disagree. A terrible thing to have happened, yes, but it will only add to the cache of danger surrounding the brand’s image with young people.
I guess that’s a terrible thing too when you think about it, and the fact that BlackBerry will profit from it while publicly decrying it is even worse, but this is the kind of world we live in now. You cannot, for the moment at least, buy publicity like this.
Tags: bbm, blackberry, iphone, jessie j, knife crime, marketing, mobile phone, pulse nightclub, research in motion, RIM, smartphone, south london, southwark, technology, towie