By Chuck Howitt, Record staff
WATERLOO – Say goodbye to Research In Motion as a corporate name.
Say hello to BlackBerry as the new handle for the company that created the smartphone space in mobile communications.
In a historic and symbolic decision announced today as part of the launch of the new BlackBerry 10 smartphone, RIM said it is officially changing its name to BlackBerry.
The moniker that carried the company through its first 29 years of history is gone.
In many countries of the world, the BlackBerry name has a much higher profile than Research In Motion, Frank Boulben, the company’s chief marketing officer, said in an interview.
“When you travel around the world, you go to South Africa, South America, BlackBerry is the leading brand in the category. In Europe, we are known only as BlackBerry,” he said.
“It really seemed to me to be the obvious thing to do given the stature of our brand.”
The company also felt the timing was right given all the other changes happening at BlackBerry, including the launch of the new phones, the revamping of the company’s management structure, the new approach to doing business and the streamlining of its workforce, Boulben said.
In conjunction with the company re-branding, BlackBerry is also adopting a simpler “nomenclature” for its smartphones.From now on the touch-screen phones will go by the name BlackBerry Z10 and the keyboard phones will adopt the name BlackBerry Q10.
On the marketing front, the company believed it was diluting the power of the BlackBerry brand by having too many names, including RIM and the many versions of the BlackBerry, such as the Bold, Torch, Pearl and Curve, he said
“By changing the name we will have a branded house instead of a house of brands,” Boulben said.
The new name means the company will change its stock ticker symbol on the Toronto Stock Exchange and the NASDAQ, the signage on all its buildings and offices, its web presence, the email addresses of all its employees and the like, he said.
“If you are an employee you work for BlackBerry, if you are a customer you hold a BlackBerry device, if you are a shareholder you own BlackBerry shares.”
Boulben, who has spent much of his career working in Europe for wireless carriers such as Vodafone and Orange, said he felt the company should change its name to BlackBerry almost from the day he started at BlackBerry six or seven months ago.
Asked if there was any resistance inside the company to dropping the Research In Motion name, he replied, “Absolutely not. There was full support starting with the board (of directors).”
Research In Motion was the name chosen when co-founders Mike Lazaridis and Doug Fregin launched their little tech company out of a strip mall on Erb Street East in Waterloo in 1984. It meant research that was always changing and in motion.
According to the 2010 book BlackBerry by Rod McQueen, the name came to Lazaridis while watching a news program on TV about football players learning ballet to improve their balance.
He had been pondering some variation on the word research, and when he saw the slogan “poetry in motion” on the TV screen, the name Research In Motion was born.
For the first 15 years of the firm’s existence there was no threat to its supremacy as a company brand as RIM busied itself with other tech and wireless products.
But with the emergence of the first BlackBerry smartphone in 1999 and its gradual adoption as a mobile communications device by business and government in North America and Europe, the BlackBerry name began to resonate more widely with the general public.
The name BlackBerry came from a California company, Lexicon Branding, that RIM hired in 1998, one year before the first BlackBerry was released. It derived the name from the black colour of the device and the shape of its keyboard, which looked like the seeds of a berry, according to the McQueen book.
The company also is adopting a new corporate culture in how it runs its business and engages customers using the marketing slogan “Be Bold” that was employed to promote the BlackBerry Bold smartphone, he said.
Bold will stand for “brave, open, lean and dependable,” he noted.
This is “a set of values that will drive us internally,” Boulben said.