Want to know where new RIM CEO Thorsten Heins was this week? No? Well too bad, I’m telling you anyway.
Heins was on Bloor Street in Toronto. More specifically, he was at a launch party for a new Porsche Design store, where he revealed a joint venture between RIM and the design group, which is a subsidiary of Porsche, the eighty-one year old German carmaker. The Globe and Mail’s Iain Marlow was there and reported the presence of many pairs of enormous sunglasses worn indoors, and lots of coiffing of fuzzy blackberry infused champagne by women in high heels.
The fruit of the collaboration is the BlackBerry Porsche, a $2000 smartphone with a forged stainless steel frame, and a full-grain leather back wrapped around the company’s famous Qwerty keyboard. Heins described the device as “aspirational”.
This may be the most notoriety a phone that cost as much as a used car has gotten in a while, but it’s not the first. There is TAG Heuer’s $6,700 Link Phone, with alligator skin casing, and the eighteen-carat gold Nokia Oro.
The first time I saw the BlackBerry Porsche, it was in a picture of Beyonce Knowles holding one on the streets of Manhattan. The caption explained it was a gift from Kanye West. This got me thinking about the product placement. In 2006, Rolex paid Tennis star Roger Federer a rumoured $15 million. Kim Kardashian makes more than $10,000…to simply mention a product to her Twitter followers. RIM itself paid Irish rockers U2 between seven and fifteen-million to hawk the BlackBerry in 2009. The cost for pictures of Beyonce walking through New York on a sunny afternoon proudly sporting a BlackBerry? Zero.
RIM, which has just hired a new Chief Marketing Officer in Frank Boulben, should take note: exclusivity is bigger today than it has ever been. Everybody wants to be different, like everyone else.
The BlackBerry Porsche is, predictably, sold out. Apparently the device was sought out by celebrities such as Kim Kardashian and Jay-Z. RIM should note that now, more than ever, Hollywood needs to find new and expensive ways to drape a virtual velvet rope around itself and charge admission to get inside. It’s likely more than a few of those young stars were among the few who downloaded the infamous “I Am Rich” app; a $1000 app available for the iPhone which was simply a glowing red light with the name of the app scrolling past. Eight people; six from the US, one from Germany and one from France downloaded the app in the first twenty-four hours.
So with RIM struggling for ideas to market its new BlackBerry 10 devices and, presumably, a stricter budget to do so, why not release a $50,000 BlackBerry? Encase it with diamonds. Include a butler for a day. Throw in partial ownership of a sports team, not one of the good ones, just the Padres or Panthers or Bobcats. Have Thorsten Heins hand deliver each one. Whatever, doesn’t matter. It’s going to be a great phone regardless, just jazz it up a bit and release, say, fifteen of them.
Ladies and gentleman, coming soon: The BlackBerry Porsche, Louis Vuitton Edition. Sorry, it’s sold out.