As is the norm with BlackBerry, the Priv by BlackBerry has garnered the attention of many tech blogs. What’s different this time is that the Priv is garnering a lot of positive attention. Many tech sites who have previously only written about BlackBerry in order to bash it, are now writing positive articles about the Priv. Many of them, being extremely complimentary of “new” features. And the fact that these “new” features are actually old BlackBerry 10 features, should really make us all question previous reviews these same writers have previously written about previous BlackBerry 10 devices.
Phonedog has always been different though. Specifically, Cam Bunton of Phonedog. Cam always gave an honest opinion of BlackBerry devices, and it was quite obvious that he actually used the phones. Something it seems most tech writers simply don’t do. Sadly, it appears that Cam has left Phonedog and I’m sad to see him go.
Does this mean the friendly feelings BlackBerry fans have towards Phonedog should be shuffled away? It appears not. In recent post by contributing editor Anna Scantlin, the Priv is called the most memorable phone of 2015. Scantlin speaks of a marriage of Google and BlackBerry, of one’s strengths being the other’s weaknesses. This could very well be true, however, I think there’s more to it than that.
BlackBerry Takes A New Direction
Yeah, they made an Android phone. We know. It’s the first time they’ve produced a phone that uses someone else’s operating system. That’s a pretty obvious new direction. BlackBerry has done more than that though. Their entire approach is different this time around.
For years, BlackBerry has been, well, polite. As others attacked in commercials, media, and elsewhere, BlackBerry would seem to at best, turn the other cheek, at worst, ignore it or hide from it. Under John Chen’s regime, that has changed. BlackBerry is quick to point out when other’s are wrong about BlackBerry, and with the Priv, BlackBerry has gone on the offensive.
Furthermore, BlackBerry, who has never really marketed, and when they did so, didn’t do so very well, is taking some fairly original marketing tactics. While many seem to only think in terms of television commercials, BlackBerry first took to social media and online advertising, and now have advertising on city busses and billboards going up. This advertising seems to be effective, as people who a short time ago was not even aware that BlackBerry still made phones, are now asking about BlackBerry. What’s next? We can only guess, as I don’t think any of us guessed this would be the route that would be taken before.
Stand Out In The Crowd
Walk in to your local carrier store and look at the phones. It looks like a digital graveyard. The tombstones that jut from the countertops have the most minor of differences. These are a little larger than those. These have rounder corners and those more square. These are plastic while those are flimsy aluminum. They’re all flat slabs of glass, and if you hid the brand name, most consumers couldn’t tell one from the other.
There’s no denying the Priv is different, and yet, that’s not something new for BlackBerry. Looking at the Priv with it’s slide out keyboard, the Passport with it’s wide approach, or the Classic with it’s…. classic… styling, there is no denying that they are BlackBerry and unlike anything else in the store. The Priv however takes a different approach than the Classic and the Passport. While the Classic and Passport are designed with first and foremost for function, the Priv is just damned sexy. While there were many times I had people immediately lose interest in my Passport once I told them it was a BlackBerry, I have yet to have anyone stop asking about my Priv, even once they hear it’s a BlackBerry.
Enlighten the People
With the Priv, BlackBerry has included a small app focused on security. Right now on Lollipop, it’s functionality is a bit limited, but I suspect that shall change with Marshmallow. Of course, I am talking about Dtek. Dtek does something I bet many app makers will be unhappy about. It tells on the apps. It will tell the user what those little conniving apps are doing in the background. It will tell you how many thousands of times a day Facebook accesses your location. It will tell you how many thousands of times a day that WhatsApp spies on your contact list. It will tell you how many times your personal information is being skimmed. And I have seen many users, even longtime BlackBerry users who fully understand what these apps do, completely shocked when they find out how often these apps do it. I suspect once the findings of Dtek actually get out in to the public eye, many people shall be questioning how necessary these must have apps really are.
The most memorably phone of 2015? I think that’s a given. Now let’s just hope it becomes the most successful phone of 2015.