Why I'm still right about the BlackBerry Passport (and other things)


What a firestorm! I sort of knew going in that my previous entry, "Do NOT buy a BlackBerry Passport until you read this", would evoke a heated response from the BB faithful. However, I never imagined there were still so many dedicated BlackBerry fans out there. Over 200 (mostly scathing) comments later, and I can feel the rage (the "Zionist" quips, in particular, were hilarious).

Another pundit might try to backtrack in light of such unrelenting animosity. But not me! The potent combination of unbridled hubris and geographic isolation have emboldened me to double-down on my original assertions. So, instead of dancing around the issues, I’m tackling a few of the major objections head-on to show you why I’m right (and you’re all wrong) about the BlackBerry Passport.

First up is the "business user" objection. Many have pointed out that the Passport is designed specifically for BB fans, with features that benefit users who have traditionally skewed towards physical keyboards and other signature BlackBerry elements. They claim that I’m missing the point by focusing on a market of users for whom the device was never intended.

My response is that I agree with their analysis of the Passport’s feature set: It is indeed designed for hardcore BB fans. However, as was the case with the Playbook, the buzz around BlackBerry’s "funky" new phone has greatly broadened its potential appeal. Which, in the case of a device like the Passport, is a very bad thing.

Customers who listen to the buzz and mistakenly purchase a Passport thinking it’s just like any other Android or iOS handset will quickly bump into the very real compatibility and app selection issues that have plagued BB10 from the beginning. The resulting high return rate, coupled with the inevitable scathing reviews from journalists who have no clue about BlackBerry or the design philosophy behind the device, will create the same kind of negative media spiral that doomed the Playbook.

None of this would be such a big deal if, as a company, BlackBerry was willing to settle for simply maintaining its legacy customer base. But years of belt-tightening and cost-cutting -- not to mention the unceremonious axing of underperforming products, like the Playbook -- have shown that the folks from Waterloo have little patience for small volume platforms with niche appeal.

BlackBerry’s shareholders want the company to do more than just tread water. They want it to start growing the business again, and the temptation for BlackBerry to oversell its portfolio in an effort to tap into the larger consumer market may be too strong to resist. In other words, all of the ingredients are in place for a repeat of the Playbook fiasco.

The remaining comments mostly fall under either the "you’re a shill for Apple/Google/Microsoft" category, or the "you’re a discredited journalist with questionable ethics and thus should be ignored" mantle (yet you took the time to comment).

With regard to the first line of attack, I consider it a badge of honor any time I get accused of being on some company’s payroll. And when I successfully provoke a response from two or more major camps within any 30 day period (as I have here on several occasions), I give myself an extra pat on the back for a job well done.

And as for the "discredited journalist" comments, seriously? Four years later and people are still beating that old horse? Larry Dignan’s "Watergatian" effort to discredit me dug up what, exactly? That I ran a small, one-person consultancy firm? Check. That I really did have huge Wall Street clients, like Morgan Stanley, who site-license my software? Check. That I never actually falsified any data or otherwise published anything demonstrably untrue? Check.

In fact, the only thing this buffoon ever managed to "pin" on me was that I once used the name "Craig Barth" to separate my very real, full-time job supporting Morgan and others, from my very frivolous, part-time gig as a shock-jock blogger for InfoWorld. And even then, he got the story wrong when he claimed that Mr. Barth was some fictitious character I created.

After all these years, I’m still amazed that nobody ever thought to ask what the "C" stands for in "Randall C. Kennedy" (hint: it rhymes with "Greg"). Or bothered to do a vital records search (I’m notorious, after all) and thus discovered that (surprise) I wasn’t born a Kennedy.

Let it go, folks. And meet me back here in a year so I can say "I told you so!"

Photo Credit: Mihai Petre/Shutterstock

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