Big Win for RIM, well sort of.

January 23, 2009

Obama blackberry

It was announced today, Obama will keep his BlackBerry! Now dubbed the "BarackBerry." Big win for RIM, right? Well the real answer is yes and no.

Obama and his BlackBerry has been one of the most closely watched celebrity endorsements of all time. The news that he is keeping the device made the front page of the Money section in The USA Today.

But the actual device Obama is likely to use may not be a BlackBerry made my RIM. Speculations is that it will be a Sectera by General Dynamics which is actually a repurposed Palm Treo loaded with super security and encryption software.

So the question is, does it matter? Absolutely not.

What matters is that BlackBerry owns the category of wireless email. What matters is the Obama loves his "BlackBerry" and wanted to keep his "BlackBerry."

It is like ordering a coke in a restaurant. The waitress says they have Pepsi, you say OK. You may drink the Pepsi but Coke is the winner in the mind, the own the category.

BlackBerry owns the category of smart phones with keyboards. When you are first in a new category with a brilliant name you become synonymous with that category. Like Coca-Cola, Kleenex, Xerox, Red Bull, RollerBlade, etc.

Take Palm, they were the first digital organizer (or PDA) in the mind. But the name was weak. It was too generic. They should have used Palm as the category name and given the device a unique name. Actually it was the Palm Pilot originally but they lost the Pilot name in a lawsuit.

In smart phones, we have a classic battle brewing. Two brands each with opposite and distinct positions. iPhone owns cool. BlackBerry owns efficiency. And BlackBerry is now the choice President Obama. A President is trying to be seen as in touch and getting things done.

If BlackBerry plays this right, they could position iPhone users as slackers. iPhone users as kids listening to music and watching videos all day long. Not the message many executives want to send. Phones to save time vs. phones to kill time.

I'm working hard and I'm keeping my BarackBerry.