A previous article written by one of our team members, Jerid, discussed how BlackBerry had and lost its identity and effectively its status at the same time. I’ll be the first to admit, I was part of the problem, not the solution. I bought the Pearl 8100 back in the day, because my previous contract was up and I wanted something that had internet and took an SD card. To me, it was about getting an all-in-one device, not about having the status. I didn't know it, but I was at the forefront of the BlackBerry becoming the device of the masses.
I enjoyed those days. I had THE PHONE and I’d had it before the majority. I was one of the cool kids because I supported BlackBerry and disregarded the iPhone. I eagerly awaited the Storm, cried at the Tour and thought the 9900 would be the iPhone killer. Then BlackBerry said that they were going to Leapfrog the competition and I got super excited. Then the PlayBook launched. Then, BlackBerry 10 launched - and, as much as I wanted it, in my heart of hearts, I think I accepted that BlackBerry may never get back to the top, where everyone carries one.
That’s when I realized something - BlackBerry was a status symbol when not everyone had one. A BlackBerry was desired because it was exclusive. More recently, the gold iPhone was revered. I recall a certain individual paying $1000 to get in line to make sure they were able to obtain one - so where does that leave BlackBerry?
I think it leaves BlackBerry in a fantastic position, because they have something far better for that value - Porsche Design devices. Not only are the devices just absolute profit for the company, they are lusted after. People know the name Porsche; it’s high end. They are willing to pay top dollar for the name because it’s a status symbol - not something hundreds of thousands of teenagers are buying. Even the gold Passport, which BlackBerry brilliantly sold in very limited number, is a status symbol.
Heck, just the Passport alone holds a certain intrigue and wow factor as BlackBerry goes back to its roots of identity. The Passport has been targeted towards certain demographics, one of which is the medical industry. Remember when doctors wore pagers because they had to be connected, so they could be contacted at any moment? And people wanted pagers because they were worn by doctors and other important, high profile professionals. Now, they’re using Passports because it’s what’s best for them, just like the pager was.
BlackBerrys' new Identity, new focus, is back on Enterprise; business, medical, and professionals. It is far less likely to see them in common hands - but that's not to say that BlackBerry doesn't have a small consumer following. Seeing a BlackBerry in the wild is a rare occurrence for me. Usually it happens when I travel. I’m a Smartphone outcast in my hometown - so my Z30 is not a status symbol. Now, if I had a Porsche Design… well, let’s just say it’d be interesting to see what others had to say. (Maybe BlackBerryCentral should buy me one and I could do a little experiment… ;D )
Certain BlackBerrys are status symbols, more so than iPhones I feel. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that any given BlackBerry will be noticed and honored as it once was. Yet I do believe that specific BlackBerry devices are some of the top status symbols of the Smartphone world. If a Porsche Design Passport was to be unveiled right now… and then limited in number… I really couldn’t fathom a larger win for that BlackBerry’s identity heading towards number one status.