BlackBerry damage control

by Volker Weber


Imagine you were BlackBerry and you wanted to move from a not so successful platform (BlackBerry 10) to a wildly successful platform (Android).

Learn from how Nokia messed it up. Symbian was dying, Windows Phone wasn't done. With the burning platform manifesto then Nokia-CEO Elop sank the old ship before the new one was ready. Symbian had been declining and then fell off a cliff.

What we reported was:

  1. BlackBerry is discontinuing the Classic, the Leap will be phased out soon, and BlackBerry stops making the AT&T Passport.
  2. BlackBerry 10 will be supported until the end of 2018 and there are two new versions coming out. 10.3.3 soon and 10.3.4 next year.
  3. BlackBerry is planning three new Android devices. Two touchscreens this year, one keyboard next year.

Now BlackBerry COO Marty Beard sets us straight:

Last week we shared the latest plan to keep advancing our smartphone portfolio. Unfortunately, the news was misinterpreted by many – from the media, to tech observers, to our fans and customers.

He then goes on to explain:

That is why we are committed to not just maintaining BB10 software, but advancing it to be even more secure and provide even greater productivity. You’ll see that with the next 10.3.3 update coming within the next month, which will be focused on enhancing our already-stellar privacy and security features. Future BB10 software updates for 2017 are already in the works.

See Number 2 above.

Meanwhile, BlackBerry 10 devices such as the BlackBerry Passport and Leap are still available to our loyal customers.

See Number 1 above. Yes, they are "still available".

This means we’ll continue to make our iconic BlackBerry keyboard.

See Number 1 and 3. Priv has a keyboard, Passport (still available) has a keyboard, next year's Android has a keyboard.

PRIV was the first iteration… and soon there will be others.

See Number 3.

If you are the COO, you cannot tell this story in any other way. You and I would say: "We are moving from BB10 to Android, and that move is complete in nine months." But then you would be sitting on a lot of inventory that none of your loyal customers want anymore.

You can keep buying these devices until BlackBerry runs out of stock. And then you will be supported for another two years.

Here are two questions to ask:

  1. Do you have any new BlackBerry 10 smartphones in the pipeline?
  2. Will you still be selling BlackBerry 10 smartphones a year from now?

The answer to those questions will be "we do not comment on future plans". That is how you avoid lying.


This is a great observation. Note how you need to semantically analyze and connect every single word in the text in order to get the real message, and how slight variations in the language are used to say specific things and avoid saying specific things (you could also say to spin or deceit the reader). This reminds me of interpreting some abstract poem in Literature class (which I never enjoyed as much as Math).

As a customer, I do not feel being taken seriously and fooled. Personally, I would say that this kind of passive aggressive communication strategy (not only used by BlackBerry) is a sign of deep trouble in our business culture.

Peter Daum, 2016-07-14

BS-detection at its finest 👍 Thanks.

Hubert Stettner, 2016-07-14

And where's the new android-bb? The week ist almost over :-)

Karl Heindel, 2016-07-14

Peter, avoiding the truth is deeply rooted in the American culture. And we are copying this. When was the last press release that said, this person was fired? It's always a mutual agreement.

Thanks, Hubert. That is what I do.

Karl, your calendar is off. The first opportunity is on the 19th. I suspect the 26th. And I will have it on the 27th. I expect an embargo until a date in August though.

Volker Weber, 2016-07-14

Who will trust a company, that informs it's customers by mail to stop selling a product from this day on, anyway? As happend on June 27th with Good for Enterprise.

Peter Meuser, 2016-07-15

You saw this coming and told your customer, right? That's how we add value and get paid for it.

We don't rely on propaganda (press releases and blog posts) alone.

Volker Weber, 2016-07-15

Volker, it is also starting to appear in Europe, I agree.

Not quite the same scale of hyperbolae (where almost everything is radical, awesome, and a paradigm shift, everybody is a leader) but it's starting with small irritations. Nobody says 'Preiserhöhung' but they now say 'Preisanpassung' nowadays.

People are searching for new opportunities instead of unemployed. Bah!

Andrew Magerman, 2016-07-15

Old archive pages

I explain difficult concepts in simple ways. For free, and for money. Clue procurement and bullshit detection.


Paypal vowe