Mean Girl-ing the BlackBerry


Remember when the BlackBerry was the most popular device in the school of smartphones?  Sophisticated and savvy, it was a status

Soooo 2008.

symbol of business pros, world travelers and social butterflies.  Me? I loved my BlackBerry during my years as a travel publicist, with its international data plans and QWERTY keyboard.

But, like most BB users, I grew frustrated watching friends use fabulous apps that I couldn’t access.  I can’t recall how many times I had to ask my husband to look up a restaurant or map directions on his iPhone because my BlackBerry was too slow, or couldn’t access a web page.

This loss of enthusiasm has culminated in a trend of BlackBerry shaming, as chronicled in a recent New York Times piece. When I needed a new smartphone in early 2012, I made the iPhone switch.  Now, I sit with Siri and all the “cool” kids at the lunch table.  I feel accepted…. and we all laugh at BlackBerry, downgraded to social outcast.

The stereotype of iPhone users, as portrayed in current Samsung ads, is of smug hipsters, blindly devoted to grouping in line for a product with trivial upgrades, all while teasing rival devices.  The iPhone seems to have become smartphones’ Mean Girl.

Speaking up in its own defense, BlackBerry manufacturer Research in Motion (RIM) declared that the Times never contacted it to obtain a balanced viewpoint.  Loyalists are flocking to support site CrackBerry and blogging about why using a BlackBerry “can still be cool (seriously)”.  And RIM is gearing up for the release of its BB10 platform, designed to compete with the Android, iPhone and Windows Phone.

All the sniping aside, the harsh truth is that BlackBerry’s brand image is in the dumps. How can it regain its role as Queen Bee?  It’s a stretch, but this could be achieved through one heck of a successful launch of the BB10 OS.  But that hinges on the system holding up to the slick speediness of top smartphone devices.   A clever marketing campaign, integrating grassroots movements to resurrect the BlackBerry, would also be key.

As unlikely as that seems, let’s be a little nicer to the BlackBerry folks.  After all, one day that could be us sulking in the corner.


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