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Why RIM’s ‘PlayBook’ Should’ve Been Called ‘BlackBook’

Seven days now since the announcement of RIM's work-in-progress tablet computer, BlackBerry PlayBook. The specs, impressive. The design, in line with RIM's BlackBerry smartphones. The name, clearly a joke.

But it isn't. Unless, RIM is planning a whole charade of odd branding and marketing decisions surrounding this iPad-killer hopeful. Will Balsillie emerge from the caverns of Waterloo laughing uncontrollably in a public statement announcing that 'the PlayBook was only a hoax, imagine us calling our cutting-edge tablet the PlayBook...'? And the conspiracy theorists are already chirping.

But I have to say that the likelihood of Jim making any such pronouncement is simply my fiction getting the better of my fact.

And affixing "BlackBerry" to the front of the name does not improve the situation. Is that supposed to make it more viable, more defined, more "enterprise"? And aren't the two identities clashing already -- Business versus Pleasure -- BlackBerry versus PlayBook is more like it.

So let's strip away the "BlackBerry" for a moment and look at the device in its most naked form. Why 'PlayBook', when RIM clearly positioned the device as an "enterprise ready professional tablet" in its fancy introductory video. Is RIM telling us that Suits just aren't playing enough or that RIM itself is perhaps losing at the Apple-predominant playing field of rocking consumer devices (pun intended).

It really is simply RIM, you should've chose BlackBook (not Blackberry PlayBook):

  • First off, 'BlackPad', as many tech and blog sites were contending as a frontrunner for the name of the new RIM tablet, is simply not doable, at least RIM wasn't so nearsighted to actually share names with an Apple product ... iPad anyone?
  • Second, 'BlackBook' is cool. Quite simple actually, just watch The Social Network movie to understand where I'm coming from. B2B or B2C, cool does matter. The name itself denotes status and marketability.
  • Third, 'BlackBook' is not only sleek and enterprise-minded but also fashionable and commercial. It appeals to the sensibilities of both the enterprise and consumer sectors with little effort.
  • Fourth, instead of marrying BlackBerry and PlayBook in some type of incestuous RIM relationship why not create some brotherly -- or sisterly -- love by mirroring the incredibly strong brand identity of the BlackBerry with a new product entitled 'BlackBook'. The smartphone and tablet will be undeniably related with 'device-pairing' as a key selling point. Apple chose the "i", so is it really foolish to think that RIM could not do the same by finding some type of niche for identification that its target can recognize and relate to.
  • Most importantly, RIM is trying too hard with the 'PlayBook'. A device whose main focus is in fact not play but business, so the video says. There must be a balance between functionality and branding. There must be unity across all lines. Simply put, there must be 'BlackBook'.

I can't say I yet understand RIM's decision to opt for PlayBook. Who knows what other names floated around during that brainstorming session, but it seems RIM has their strategy and target market confused.

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Name: Simren Deogun