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BlackBerry Passport, once called an “ugly duckling”, wins posh design award

BlackBerry Passport
BlackBerry Passport
With the Passport, BlackBerry, under the quietly impressive reigns of new leader John Chen, zigged where it used to zag.

It was derided as “wide and unwieldy”, as looking like a “giant square drink coaster” and as an “ugly duckling”, but BlackBerry may be having the last laugh over would-be style aficionados.

The BlackBerry Passport has won one of the world’s most prestigious design awards, the Red Dot Award for product design.

“The BlackBerry Design Team is honoured to accept the prestigious Red Dot: Best of the Best Product Design Award for the BlackBerry Passport,” said Alison Phillips, the company’s Managing Director and Head of Industrial Design. “The value of design comes through when technology and new ideas can be turned into meaningful products that users connect with. This innovative product was a collaboration of many teams coming together to deliver a new design icon for BlackBerry.”

Founded in 1955 by Germany’s Design Zentrum Nordrhein Westfalen, the Red Dot Awards received more than 15,500 submissions in 2014. Awards are presented in three categories: design team of the year, communication design and design concept. Past winners include Nikon, Reebok and Kia.

From the time it was released, the BlackBerry Passport provoked contrasting opinions. The company said this was by design.

“We weren’t looking for comfort,” CEO John Chen told the Globe and Mail. “It had to stand out and be strong. The design had to be aggressive. Love it or hate it, it had to be polarizing.”

After initially selling out of the first 200,000 Passports, sales appear to have trickled off. A March note from Morgan Stanley said the device was “underselling”.

Below: The Design Story Behind the BlackBerry Passport

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Cantech Letter founder and editor Nick Waddell has lived in five Canadian provinces and is proud of his country's often overlooked contributions to the world of science and technology. Waddell takes a regular shift on the Canadian media circuit, making appearances on CTV, CBC and BNN, and contributing to publications such as Canadian Business and Business Insider.
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  1. too bad the operating system is beyond awful and there are almost no compatible apps. The hardware and design are pretty good though.

  2. Anyone who takes this as ‘meaningful’ is delusional. Awards are universally handed out to whoever pays the most to whoever is responsible for the award being ‘given’ out. A consumer must always ask the question “is it useful?”. In this case, absolutely not.

  3. This is probably one of the best cell phones ever….and those who hate it never tried it. BB10 is vastly superior to iOS or Android. And if your surfing the web on one of these…its an amazing experience.

  4. I hesitated for months on getting the Passport because I wasn’t sure if I liked the size and looks. I finally got one back in February and I love it. It’s the best smartphone I’ve ever owned. The battery is amazing and it works so well. It’s a conversation piece every time someone see it for the first time that’s for sure. I suspect that not many people have purchased the Passport and regretted it.

  5. Digit Magazine did a competition last year based on metrics and rated BB10 as the best out of the box OS. Apple was second, Android third and Microsoft last. There are plenty of apps available in both BlackBerry World and Amazon App store. It is true that still leaves you with only about 1/3 of what is available on Google Play or the Apple Store but it is much better than your observation of “almost no compatible apps”.

  6. Somebody, you’re absolutely brilliant. You’ve figured out that since blackberry has so much more money in the bank than apple and Google, they can afford to out bid them for award wins.
    Only an idjit would deny an award win for a quality product without ever even trying it!!! Maroon!!

  7. Hundreds of thousands of apps is almost none? You fail to say what apps you are missing that you need rather than some blanket statement from the competition. The Operating system is the best around with more useful features built in than any other OS. Hitting the home button constantly on iOS is beyond awful actually.

  8. Everyone pays the same to belong to these ‘clubs’. They don’t all win awards but you cannot win if you don’t join. These organizations do try to evaluate fairly the members have joined. But yes if you don’t belong to and pay for a membership to things like JD Power you will never win one of their awards.

  9. After using the Passport for months, using anything else would seem insane to me. Along with BB10.3.1/ Blackberry Blend, you can’t get better. Nice job BlackBerry. Well deserved.

  10. LOL! Yes, and this is exactly why the conglomerate corporations (Apple and Google) took over the industry, small mobile companies like Palm, Nokia, Blackberry and others have mostly gone out of business. Google and Apple can afford to change peoples thoughts through ties with the media.

  11. I’m glad they won this so more people take note.

    I wish all my Android apps would work on the Passport. I wouldn’t mind trying it.
    I also have only heard good things about BB OS from people that used it.

    In the business world I can see it being unbeatable.

  12. Not only does it provide the best communication and sound it also does what no other phone does, and that is it doubles as a weapon!!! I could hurt someone with this device. Built tough!!!

  13. Can you name an app they don’t have or are you just a isheep doing your daily trolling?

  14. I plan on moving to a Passport for my main work phone. I finally had a chance to test one at AT&T for a while – it’s a very productive phone.

  15. How can u say beyond awful? It’s way more efficient than Android or iPhone… You surely haven’t used it.

  16. I liked what you said and people seem to forget… One doesn’t need 400,000 apps.

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