Simphiwe Xulu: Blackberry Born Again – The Dark Knight Has Risen


Please note: My two cents – I believe – is atleast worth four in any currency

So the Blackberry brand is back on the playing field after a long over extended 2 year absence. Within these last two years, we have seen a sequence of train wreck events from Blackberry. We have seen a two day long worldwide BIS shutdown, dwindling Blackberry phone sales, thousands of employees retrenched, the launch of a terrible and useless tablet, share-prices dropping at record rates and the explosion of the Apple iStore and Google Android Playstore. This has all resulted in a market share that now lies at under 10%, which has most definitely ensured that many sceptics have written off Blackberry as a player in the smartphone market. Infact, it is safe to say that many consider the brand to be dead. Older phone users have all grown tired of waiting and have renewed their cellphone contracts with Apple smartphones or Samsung Galaxy smartphones. Young and cool little rich kids now enter the market and set trends with iPhones, iPads and Galaxy Notes. If Blackberry and the Blackberry brand were dead, they needed a hero, something big, some huge, something fresh, something bold and something new. And in the manner of Bruce Wayne in the Dark Knight trilogy, it is without fear that I declare that the Dark Knight that is the Blackberry brand, has risen amongst the ashes.

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins launches the new phones

Blackberry CEO Thorsten Heins launches the new phones to much fanfare

With RIM effectively changing their entire company name to Blackberry, the launch of the new Blackberry Z10 and Q10 phones provides the brand with a new lease on life and the opportunity to rebrand and reposition themselves in the market. Here are three simple reasons I believe that the launch of these new phones will be the second coming of the Blackberry brands.

  1. 1.       The Z10 is arguably, the best phone in the market right now

Now remember, this is Blackberry we’re talking about. They have not entered this conversation in well over 2 years and this time they have over impressed the world and popular tech gadget reviewers like hard to please New York Times reviewer David Progue and Bloomberg’s Karl Baker. The features on the phone are sensational to say the least – even if it is easy for a techno amateur like me to be impressed For the busy corporate execs, the feature Balance partitions users’ work and personal worlds into two distinct environments, keeping work data and messages in each from intermingling. So basically, with one swipe on your phone, one can now separate their work phone from their personal phone, all in one phone. Concerned about their limited app stock of 70 000 apps? Blackberry came prepared and has shrewdly written a utility program that can convert Android apps, making it simple for programmers to adapt their wares. So basically, to quote Catwoman from the Dark Knight Rises, the phone is “adaptable”. In this new age of fast information and technology, the standard is; Adapt or Die. Another feature Flow, for instance, allows users to move between apps with the mere swipe of a finger.  The Time Shift feature on the double sided HD camera allows you to go back nearly 2 seconds in time to recapture that perfect expression( remember its only 2013) Screen resolution? Bigger and better than the iPhone 5. Speed? BB10 operating system is arguably the fastest phone in the market right now.  To simply quote New York Times’ David Progue “The Blackberry BB10 is complete.  The iPhone, Android and Windows Phone all entered life missing important features. Not this one ”. Add with the new (and controversial BIS) which will now allow one to make free calls and video calls over the internet, and we might just have the most compete phone in the market right now.

  1. 2.       The timing is perfect

So a lot of the talk is about how the markets have responded to the announcement of the two new phones. The general opinion seems to be that they have responded negatively. (Lets not read too much into the Canada sales Record for Blackberry Z10) But let me refrain from “market Wall Street talk” that I know very little about. After 3 long years of Android and Google iOS dominance, I do agree with Kevin Burden (Head of Mobility at Strategy Analytics) when he states that “We have to believe that there is some level of user fatigue that plays into the longevity of some of these platforms… RIMs timing is right” he added. As amazing as everything Android and iOS has become, people and consumers are always open to something new. We love to back the underdog. We love to see a great comeback! Given the length of absence of Blackberry as a player in the smartphone market, they still have 79 million invested consumers who have stood by them through thick and thin. That’s incredibly powerful! All they need to do is win back their trust and deliver on their promises yet again. Like your first true love, if they ever return at the right time, we’re always willing to give them a second chance. It all comes down to timing, and the time is now.

Leader of the Kool Kids Alicia Keys

Ambassador and Leader of the Kool Kids Alicia Keys

  1. 3.       Blackberry does cool best… And they’re back to cool again

I have no idea how to verbalise the title of my third point properly, but I hope you know what I mean. In-between all the things that define a high-end youthful brands such as the correct messaging, the right kind of sex appeal, the look of the product and all such fickle but important factors, Blackberry have hit the right spot which they need to in order to turn things around. As youth, we love noise. Alot. Throw in a sleek, cool big budget Superbowl Ad, you will get us talking. All the noise about whether they’re coming back or not, they’ve still got us talking again. Why the delay in releasing the product? Give us two months to ponder about it and create some free hype, make up conspiracy theories, share them, converse and basically… talk, talk, talk! Like it or not, they have us talking again, and the youth love to talk. And to add fire to the hype machine, let’s bring on-board the elegant and beautiful yet self-confessed iPhone addict  who goes by the name Alicia Keys on board as Creative Director! Do the majority of her young followers (and all her old ones infact) know what a Creative Director does? Ofcourse not! Does the name and position sound incredibly cool and catchy? Ofcourse!

But the stroke of genius to string Miss Keys along, who has promised to be hands on in her new role while connecting the company with “key influencers in the entertainment industry — and beyond” has to be somewhat commended. A decision that will surely rub Creative Directors worldwide the wrong way, the right celebrity endorsement is a proven winning tactic. And the young and successfully re-energised brand that is Alicia Keys brand is the perfect brand alignment.

Blackberry have taken a seat back, analysed all their mistakes, and have firstly delivered a quality and premium product which can compete with the best. But understanding their brand architecture and what made them “the phone to have” at one stage, is what will be key in seeing the second coming of the Blackberry Revolution. Unlike Microsoft Windows phones, Blackberry always paid attention to their “cool factor” and have done so again in this instance. And everybody loves the cool guy in the crowd. And cool sells brands. Blackberry are down, but this the release of these new phones has sent a strong message to any doubters that a second coming is at bay.

Agree? Disagree? Follow me on twitter @Mr_MediaX

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2 responses to “Simphiwe Xulu: Blackberry Born Again – The Dark Knight Has Risen

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