There’s been a lot of talk over the past week about BlackBerry’s launch of its native BlackBerry 10 OS. It’s an anniversary, a time to ponder and reflect. It’s been four years, and that moment was a true turning point for the mobile tech company, Research in Motion.
Research in Motion is the original moniker for what would simply become BlackBerry. That name shifted in the narrative the same time that the company launched their fan-favorite operating system in 2013. It was heralded as part of the larger comeback strategy for BlackBerry. It was an attempt to recapture the buzz and the amorous, near obsessive, attraction fans had toward the BlackBerry devices.
BlackBerrys were addictive, well-used, and revered workhorses that made the transition from the elite business world to the competitive consumer market. But we all know the story, the appearance of Apple’s iPhone took over the fan-base, and RIM lost its footing. So, RIM made the move to become known by the name that built its empire: BlackBerry. They were moving forward, and fighting to reclaim their place.
However, it didn’t quite work. BlackBerry has kept a large portion of its truly loyal fans and brought some old friends back into the fold, but other fair-weather groupies fell prey to the allure of more elementary tech devices, choosing OEMs like Apple, Samsung, or LG. The strategy began to shift again. A new CEO took the stage, and diverted the company towards BlackBerry’s strongest assets: software and cybersecurity. These silent players have fueled BlackBerry devices and RIM’s bottom line since the genesis of the tech giant. But they haven’t been at the forefront of that narrative until very recently.
Fans still want their devices. With the news that BlackBerry is entrusting the design and build to a third party, they’re worried that the devices will not reflect the style and versatility that BlackBerry has always delivered in the past. The devices will still come, though, and BlackBerry will ensure it matches their standards.
This switch from device to the backend support that software and security offers frees BlackBerry up even more. It allows them to branch out, find tangents others ignore, and provide a truly custom experience to their end users. However, the name “BlackBerry” evokes a tangible style and elegance through the device. It’s become even more difficult for media (and fans) to separate the company from the devices on which the company was built.
Do you think, looking back, that changing the name from RIM to BlackBerry has made their new corporate strategy harder to achieve? Will people be able to embrace a culture from BlackBerry that is not device-centric?