RIM Spends a Ton, Rebrands Itself as…BlackBerry!

In case you aren’t a tech blogger, this morning’s hot story concerned the future of Research in Motion, one of America’s “most hated” brands.

Yes, people still get excited about smartphone companies that have fallen way behind the curve. Need proof? Journalists from every major publication showed up to cover today’s new product roll-out event (while sniggering under their breath). RIM, famous only for producing the BlackBerry, used the event as an opportunity to rebrand itself as…wait for it…BlackBerry.

The public already saw the new BlackBerry 10 before today’s big roll-out thanks to a badly staged PR stunt at a November Lakers game, but right now we’re more interested in the company’s decision to name “longtime Apple userAlicia Keys as its global creative director. What will she do to revitalize the brand? What will she tell her 1.6 million Instagram fans, who still can’t use BlackBerries to follow her account? And won’t she get annoyed when everyone starts comparing her to Beyoncé? We certainly would. She didn’t even play a song this morning, by the way. We feel slightly robbed.


In case anyone thought BlackBerry was less than serious about its rebranding, the company plans to spend more than $200 million on its new “Keep moving” campaign, which will include a Super Bowl spot along with all the usual bells and whistles. In interviews, company execs stress that the campaign is all about the product itself rather than meaningless celebrity spokespeople…

So what about the device? It comes in two versions, one with a touch screen and one that keeps the famous BlackBerry keypad. More importantly, it includes a feature called “BlackBerry Balance” that makes it much easier for users to toggle between their personal and professional accounts while also allowing HR managers to “remotely wipe corporate data from fired employees’ phones while leaving the newly jobless workers’ personal photos, e-mails, music and apps untouched”. See, that is quite a quote right there.

The good news: tech critics tell us the new toy’s actually kinda cool! Will it be enough to save a brand whose share of the smartphone market went from 85% to less than 5% in a couple of years? Probably not, since it’s hard for customers to return to a platform they’ve already dumped.

But somebody just made a lot of money.