Dear Blackberry: “Playbook” is a great name. If you’re Nintendo.

More brand confusion from Blackberry

This week, search Research In Motion (RIM) unveiled its new tablet product. And after months of speculation that the product would be called the “BlackPad”, medications and our own scathing review of the Blackberry Torch brand strategy, we were surprised to learn they were calling it “Playbook”. Which Beg to Differ thinks is a great name… for a different product…

Trying to have it both ways

In the battle of the tablets, Blackberry needed to come out strongly as the classy, powerful business suit against the jeans and turtleneck of the iPad. Indeed, RIM’s Mike Lazaridis dressed the part in an expensive suit as he delivered very un-Steve-Jobs keynote at the Blackberry developer’s conference. So far so good.

And he was talking the talk too, calling the Playbook: “the first multiprocessing, multitasking, uncompromised browsing, enterprise-ready professional-grade tablet – with raisins”. Okay, I added the raisins, but all those modifiers sure do make it sound… serious.

But it was all undermined by the name. Playbook is a wonderful name, for something you PLAY on. Yes, of course, you can spin “playbook” as a metaphor for a strategic tool, but it comes from the sports world – the world of fun and games.

And RIM actually tried to highlight the game-friendly features of the product.

No no no.

Every aspect of the brand story – from name to messaging to user interface to features RIM chose to highlight, should have screamed “all business”. This needed to be the tablet a corporate IT department would consider buying for mobile employees to WORK on.

Oh, and it’s not a book – either literally or in the sense of a category people will meaningfully associate with your product. A Macbook is more like a book than this – oh wait, isn’t that from Apple?

If RIM must call this a “book”, they should at least include a hinged, book-style cover to underline that as a differentiator.

But that’s just me playing. It doesn’t solve the problem.

The bottom line: Sorry RIM. Poorly played.

9 thoughts on “Dear Blackberry: “Playbook” is a great name. If you’re Nintendo.”

  1. Absolutely agree! First thing I thought when I saw the name. Don’t know which genius thought of that positioning gambit, but it’s poor Play! (excuse the pun).

    BlackPad – itself pretty awful, would have been better. Unless this is marking a historic change in overall market positioning…

    1. Blackpad wasn’t the right name either, but you’re right, it’s marginally better. At least it has a “stealth-tool” edge to it that the more prosaic “Playbook” lacks.

      But to really underline the professional nature of the product, I would have steered them towards something simple like “Blackberry Tablet” with a version number to allow growth. Blackberry is the brand.

  2. Thank you Mr. Differ!

    Absolutely correct, this was obvious to me as well. It pains me to see RIM making this mistake.

    While I was initially skeptical at the idea, the execution of the product has been fantastic: make it smaller than the iPad, and design it to work in conjunction with the bberry – connect to it to share internet connection and information. Perfect. Differentiator. Business users will love it. Let’s call it the PLAYbook?!?!?! WTF??

    Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.

    RIM, this is (was) your one chance to pull back into the race – by fortifying your position in the business market. BBM is great, but it can’t compete with the iPhone in the long-term. The name Playbook does not accomplish that. It does not describe the product, and the imagery it creates is simply wrong.

    1. You’re right. They nailed the product – I seriously want one – but showed again their tin ear for brand strategy.

      It’s amazing how they keep doing this, when in the same country, there must be qualified brand gurus just ITCHING to tell them how to get their branding right. Know any? ;c{)}

  3. I´ts stonelike to believe we love evolved so often in so lowercase instant when compared to added frames. Inalterable 10 years really were definitive when it comes to field and gadgets

  4. A year and a half ago my financial guy said I should get RIM into my portfolio. He wanted me to sell my shares in Apple to do this. Apple had fallen to $87 a share while RIM had reached a high of $85. The brander in me came out and I said no way. RIM will never be able to capture the imaginations of smart phone users as the iPhone did.

    Sadly, they have just shot themselves in the foot with the brand name for their tablet. Trying to be two things at the same time appealing to two different targets at the same time has never worked. Well, maybe it did for Miller Lite in the seventies.

    This followed the similar mistakes they made in trying to compete in the consumer segment instead of building on their reputation in the business segment. this is so fundamental that you have to wonder where they got their marketing people from.

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