I was recently mildly surprised to see a TV ad proclaiming that "BlackBerry Loves U2", but with little additional explanation other than a reference to a Web site with similarly little value other than to tease a "U2 Mobile Album" which hasn't yet been released. Why is the king of corporate mobility hyping a rock band via the vaporware route?
One can only assume that RIM is responding to Apple's incursion into the enterprise space with a similar thrust into the consumer market. But these teaser ads and promotions aren't really useful, IMHO - assuming someone wants whatever it is they're providing, they want it now, not a vague linkage between two worlds whose collision probably won't matter all that much. In the interest of full disclosure, I personally don't want whatever it is they're selling at all. I don't use a BlackBerry, although I've got nothing against RIM or the device - BlackBerry just doesn't suit my needs. But I'm certainly not going to run out to buy a BlackBerry because RIM sponsors a band's tour or offers me a few songs to listen to when I should really be working with that BlackBerry my boss gave me. And, for the record (so to speak), I'm not a huge U2 fan. OK, the music is, well, OK, with occasional moments worth humming, but Bono's style and attitude are insufferable. I do like the Edge's sound; I play a little guitar myself and he's really developed a unique tone and presence. But as a band they've not produced an album that I've bought since their fourth (Blood Red Sky), and that was in 1983. I do think their first, Boy, is absolutely brilliant, but from Unforgettable Fire forward we've had only flashes of brilliance swimming in a sea of self-indulgence.
But, to get back on topic, I'm not sure these tie-ins really matter in moving the gear, which is still the ultimate point. Sure, while content is indeed king, content goes nowhere without the platform. And, as the BlackBerry is still the corporate standard platform, I'm not sure how many corporate IT managers are thrilled that such non-corporate content is going to be occupying the time of BlackBerry users who, almost by definition, have more important things to do. So, then - will consumers buy the BlackBerry as a media platform? I think not, even among fans of U2. There's no unique value here beyond (assuming the Mobile Album noted above is ever released, anyway) a couple of songs.
This story, "Why Is RIM Hyping a Rock Band via Vaporware?" was originally published by Network World.