A few weeks ago I suggested that 2013 will be Research in Motion's year because Apple and Samsung are weakening each other, Steve Jobs is gone, current Apple CEO Tim Cook is out of his element and malware is hitting the Android operating system hard. In short, while the company is still coming from behind in a market that it once owned, the conditions for a relaunch would likely never be better.
This week I attended the event that launched the new Blackberry 10 phones, renamed the company and announced Blackberry's answer to Steve Jobs, musician Alicia Keys. The company is far from being out of the woods -for starters, most folks won't be able to buy the new phones for several weeks-but this was a strong start down the ever-more-possible path to restoring Blackberry to glory.
How BlackBerry Is Following Steve Jobs' Script
I often think CEOs look at their more successful peers and think, "Gee, if I do what the more successful guy is doing, he may get the credit for my success." Most, then, seem to do their level best to blame others for their eventual failure. Whether in sports or in business, there is no dishonor in using tactics that work. Jobs copied from, and improved on, Louis Gerstner's work and still got most of the credit.
There were three core elements to the Apple recovery: Get people to believe that Apple could return, create and maintain a super advocate (Steve Jobs himself) and simplify the product lines to assure high quality, high margins and superior execution.
The increase in value for Blackberry stock, which doubled prior to the launch, showcased strong behind-the-scenes efforts to convince people that BlackBerry can come back. Alicia Keys came on board to fulfill the role of super advocate and indicated she would be taking a hands-on approach to her product influence. Finally, the company focused on two products, the Z and Q series phones, which will form the basis for the initial turnaround effort.
Let's look at the three core elements to a comeback in more depth.
New Name, New Image?
Jobs bent over backwards to get investors on board with his recovery effort. He even went to Bill Gates, who he thought stole Windows from him, to get the initial investment to open the door for others. Later, he removed the word "computer" from Apple's name to make sure people understood the firm wasn't the old Apple and should instead be seen as something new and different.
The executive team at Blackberry has been working overtime to gain the trust of investors who have flocked to the company, doubling its valuation. Changing the name of the company to Blackberry makes sure people see it as new and different. The end result is a company with a product line even simpler than Apple's and a name equally focused on the future.
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