BlackBerry has Jumped the Digital Shark

Heard on the train a few days ago, as two interns in their early 20’s discussed their co-workers:  “He is so old and creepy. Even if I liked him, what is he gonna do, text me from his BlackBerry? Who even still has one of those?

Research In Motion, makers of the mobile BlackBerry device, recently announced terrible quarterly numbers and further delayed the release of the next version of their phone. As just one in a string of recent misses for the company, media pounced on the financial news and many outlets proclaimed it to be one of the last nails in RIM’s coffin. In response, the recently appointed CEO made several bold statements pointing towards a bright future for the business and the next version of their device, the BlackBerry 10.  Despite being derided as delusional, the CEO pointed out that the organization does have several things going for it:  They have zero debt and plenty of cash, a well-established user-base and plans to reduce operating expenses.  Of course, he’s not likely to come out saying, “Hell, I don’t know, I only just took the job and things are pretty messed up,” but he makes some good points.

Moreover, he seems to understand the company’s struggles.  He stated, “…RIM has missed on important trends in the smart-phone industry…” and further pointed out that they were keenly aware of the position the BlackBerry device once held, “With BlackBerry, RIM created the framework that gave people their first taste of an untethered yet completely connected life.”  That last bit might not sound like a big deal now, but it was at one point.  In the early days of the emergence of the device, it truly was liberating to be able to stay current with work while not physically at work. For the first time, with a single portable, corporate-approved, secure email device, early adapters (and, eventually, seemingly everyone in the corporate world) could finally stay connected when not in the office. Crazy as it might sound now, there was one point when having a BlackBerry was considered a status symbol.

I am not going to debate whether the company is still viable or not.  Personally, I believe they do have the potential, and resources, to succeed and the willingness to do so.  Change is always uncomfortable and this might simply be that period of discomfort.  However, since I heard the statement on the train the other day, I’ve paid much closer attention to who I see using BlackBerrys. And darn it if every single person I saw using one wasn’t over 30 years-old.  It is a small, hardly-scientific and incidental observation, but the next time you see someone using a Blackberry device, take a guess how old they might be. I’d wager not a recent college grad.

Jumping the shark is a term used (generally in TV) to indicate the exact moment when a series started going downhill and is no longer considered fresh, hip or relevant. I think, despite RIM’s potential, they are going to have to overcome a huge market perception that they are simply not cool.  In today’s age of digital devices, becoming cool is a long, uphill battle and, resources or not, that might simply be one that is unwinnable for the BlackBerry device.

Increasingly, we are being defined by our technology choices, whether is it identifying as a PC or a Mac or defining your budget by your device, judgments are being made about you as a consumer.  When you whip out your smart phone, are you sending the social message that you intend to send?

Weekend Roundup

Highlights of recent news to prepare you for the upcoming business week:

Pushing

Content

Daily Links – June 18, 2012

Each business day we post links to our favorite news items related to the digital distribution trade, as well as a few tidbits about the assets being distributed.  We categorize them accordingly.  This is… Pushing Content:

Pushing

  • A look at the role of 3D printing in modern medicine.
  • Well that was fast…  About one week after an Electronic Arts executive sated that their digital distribution service, Origin, would never offer steep discounts similar to Steam, Origin offers steep discounts on several products.
  • The release of Huffington magazine, the Huffington Post’s new iPad magazine marks an important milestone in the digital revolution.
  • Is there room for the return of the retail video rental store? Perhaps, if done well.
  • Most pundits either are either staunchly for or against 3D film technology.  Robert Fure makes a strong argument that it is not so black and white an issue and that mediocre execution of 3D is what is most damaging to the 3D experience.
  • Interesting info from Hearst touting their 2000% increase in mobile traffic and reinforcing that strong brand identification is critical to consumers pulling out their wallets for a mobile purchase.
  •  comScore releases comprehensive analysis of online video services.  Milestone of note:  video ad views reached over 10 billion for the first time ever.
  • If true, and the new Razr phone is indeed outselling the iPhone, prepare to see another 10 generations of Razr phones.
  • Infographic: One minute in the life of modern internet data.

Content

  • Diving into sports a bit:
  • The newly rebranded Brooklyn Nets sell more merchandise in a single day than they did all year as the New Jersey variant.  New Yorkers collectively say, “Told ya so.”
  • How might the second screen experience be applied to football?
  • Speaking of football, are the sport’s days numbered?

Daily Links – June 14, 2012

Each business day we post links to our favorite news items related to the digital distribution trade, as well as a few tidbits about the assets being distributed.  We categorize them accordingly.  This is… Pushing Content:

Pushing

  • comScore, the digital analytics and research firm, predicts the conversion from desktop to mobile market dominance will occur in 2014.
  • Browser Tax: An Australian retailer is charging Internet Explorer 7 users a tax for their browser choice. And here we were thinking that using IE7 was taxing enough.
  • Twitter is becoming a full-fledged content distribution platform.
  • Some of this impressive gadget technology will power tomorrow’s devices.

Content

Weekend Roundup

Highlights of recent news to get you ready for the upcoming business week:

Pushing

Content

  • The World War Z film adaptation continues to struggle.
  • 2012 Tony Awards winners list.
  • Bidding a fond farewell, after 25 years, to NPR’s Car Talk.
  • Geektastic! Swiss newspaper celebrates the move to digital distribution by printing their front page entirely in binary code.

Daily Links- June 7, 2012

Each day we post links to our favorite news items related to the digital distribution trade, as well as a few tidbits about the assets being distributed.  We categorize them accordingly.  This is… Pushing Content:

Pushing

  • Henry Blodget put together a pretty solid case for the demise of linear television… and received at least two well thought out rebuttals:
    • One from Dan Frommer. Great points here.
    • And another from an analyst at Pivotal Research Group.  Transparency award of the day goes to Business Insider for posting it.
  • Does a newspaper lose some of its authority by going digital?
  • Therapy via cell phone not as ridiculous as it sounds.  What did you think all those calls to your mom were anyway?
  • This one’s for the developers: the super-hot NoSQL database system, MongoDB, playing the role of a straightforward e-commerce application.

Content

  • Don’t miss this hilarious The Wire: The Musical clip from Funny or Die.  “I got the shotgun, you got the briefcaaasssseeeeee”.
  • The world lost a beautiful imagination today.  Farewell Ray Bradbury.
  • The NHL is clocking painfully low ratings with this year’s Stanley Cup Finals.
  • Did you change your LinkedIn password yet?

Daily Links- June 1, 2012

Each day we post links to our favorite news items related to the digital distribution trade, as well as a few tidbits about the assets being distributed.  We categorize them accordingly.  This is… Pushing Content:

Pushing

  • The relationship between Netflix and television studios continues to grow in complexity.
  • Five excellent points about the current state of television.
  • Mary Meeker, a Silicon Valley VC and industry expert, recently gave a thoroughly researched presentation on the state of mobile and the web.  For those of you seeking the highlights, Business Insider provided an extract of some of the most impactful slides as well as a mobile summary.  If you have the time, the full presentation is a bit lengthy but worth the investment.
  • Walt Mossberg and Kara Swisher have curated and released free fantastic podcasts of the collected appearances of Steve Jobs at the annual All Things Digital conference.

Content

  • Stephen King is going strictly analog with his next novel.
  • No Doubt will get their day in court- A jury will hear the interesting case the band is bringing against the developer behind the Band Hero game in which the band’s likeness and music was used.  The band is accusing of having been misled, with the resulting software tarnishing their image.  Specifically, the lawsuit states that the band was reduced to appearing as a “virtual karaoke circus act”…but isn’t that one of the key features of the “Rock Band” genre of video games?
  • The Humble Indie Bundle V, a collection of digitally distributed games from some of the most respected independent game development studios, was recently released and initial sales are strong.  Even if you don’t intend to purchase the bundle, the site is worth checking out as an example of successful user-selected pricing, complete transparency and ease of ordering.