I’ll try to keep this brief, but let’s start with this:
You’ve probably seen it in other posts in the past couple of weeks – it’s BlackBerry’s Passport.
Commentators who’ve got to hold and play with the real thing have, at the least, found it hard to ignore.
The general consensus is, that it’s pretty nifty and not as unwieldy as you might think. (It’s roughly the size of a passport, in case you didn’t guess.)
But for most, it’s a moot point, as many believe it’s too late to save the once-powerful go-to manufacturer of business phones.
I hope not.
Because on one side of the fence, you’ve got a whole bunch of smartphone manufacturers watching each other and stealing ideas from each other and slavishly following market trends and the whole thing seems to be churning out a homogenous blend of products which really, if you step back and try to analyse any shortcomings they might have these days, aren’t all that distinguishable past their logos.
On the other side, you got BlackBerry, being a bit of a lonely dork. They’re still releasing phones with keyboards.
Well, I like keyboards, and the Passport is the first phone on which I’ve seen one sitting unobtrusively, yet clearly in a manner which keeps you so aware of it.
In this respect, it’s like a trick – the essence of any great design.
Obviously, there’s a lot more to what will make or break the Passport’s success. IBM getting into bed with Apple recently is almost certainly going to rob BlackBerry of a large part of what remains of what made it the perfect business partner.
It plans to address this soon with a move to cross-platform which “enables customers to manage iOS, Android and BlackBerry and soon Windows with a single solution”.
But whether that catches on or not, Blackberry has one ace left in its skinny hand.
Despite all its troubles in the past few years, it’s still a brand that stands for the same thing it always stood for.
Personally, if I’m chatting with a CEO or my bank manager and they whip out an iPhone or something Android, it still feels a little under the mark for me. It’s kind of on a par with giving you a Gmail address.
If you’re still using a BlackBerry, yes, you may be a little behind when it comes to mobile productivity. Your app lifestyle is appalling, at the very least.
But you take your communication seriously, and (I’m a little old-fashioned on this) that’s what a phone is for.
I don’t buy hoodie towels. I buy a hoodie and a towel.
For exactly the same reason, when it comes to work, I use a solid phone, and a solid laptop or PC.
Not a small laptop. Not a large smartphone. Not a feature-packed-yet-still-well-short-of-a-PC tablet.
In this respect, BlackBerry, despite its reluctance to keep pace with smartphone innovation, still has… gravitas.
BlackBerry makes tools. And the Passport looks like it could be a very solid one.
Here’s that beautiful picture once more: