BlackBerry renames, hires Alicia Keys to lure back former flames
BlackBerry maker Research In Motion (RIM) has reinvented itself in an attempt to regain former glory, henceforth operating under the BlackBerry name globally. It has also added pop star Alicia Keys as brand ambassador, who will operate under the name ‘global creative director’.
The Canadian company will now trade as BB on the Toronto Stock Exchange and BBRY on the NASDAQ. The www.rim.com website has already changed to www.blackberry.com, with corporate email addresses to follow suit.
“Outside of North America, we are known solely as BlackBerry and the strength of the brand has opened doors in new and emerging markets. We now represent a company with a clear global brand and cohesive global marketing approach,” says Frank Boulben, chief marketing officer, BlackBerry.
Coinciding with the name change, the company unveiled its new BlackBerry 10 operating system and the product range that will house it at a media event in New York overnight. The range includes two devices, the Z10 and Q10, the latter of which retains the brand’s iconic hardware QWERTY keyboard.
It’s an attempt by the company to combat the dominance of Android and Apple devices in the market, with BlackBerry in recent times largely relegated to popularity in niche circles, such as heavy business users.
Adam Leach, principal analyst at business technology analyst firm Ovum, believes the new system and devices will appeal, at least in the short term, to existing users, but are unlikely to win over users of other platforms and increase the company’s market share. “Having achieved 70,000 applications at the launch of a new platform, the latest BlackBerry is well on the way to competing in the niche smartphone market.
“Blackberry has rightly focused on ensuring that the BlackBerry 10 devices have a large catalogue of content and applications which is now essential for any modern smartphone but it looks like it will only attract short-term interest,” says Leach.
Designed for multitaskers (such as busy marketers) the new BlackBerry Hub stores all of your notifications in one place, and allows the user to tap into BlackBerry Messenger, send tweets, and respond to Facebook and LinkedIn requests without opening the apps or navigating away from the Hub.
The platform’s popular BlackBerry Messenger service now includes video calls and a screen-sharing option to remotely view another user’s screen.
Instagram-like filters have been added to the system’s camera, but BlackBerry is still business-user focused with BlackBerry10 offering Balance, a service that separates personal and professional profiles in two modes with different sets of apps.
Along with the new system and devices, there’s a new face at BlackBerry with the induction of Alicia Keys (the 14-time Grammy Award winning singer) as global creative director. At the launch event, Keys used the analogy of BlackBerry being “like an ex-boyfriend that regained her love” when it said it had been ‘working out’ its issues and the balance of work and play features.
The Z10 will be available in the United Kingdom tomorrow, and in Canada and the United Arab Emirates on 5 February. The US rollout delay is due to carrier testing. There is no information on an Australian launch date, but Telstra and Optus have confirmed they will stock the Z10.