BlackBerry looks for a fountain of youth and enlists College Humor

RIM BLACKBERRY SUPERHEROESRIM has hired Streeter Seidell and Amir Blumenfeld of College Humor to liven up the image of its troubled BlackBerry line of smartphones and tablets. As part of its “New 2012 Challenge Council Project,” (which sounds like it was named by a foreign language translated random-word generator) the two comedians, best known for their popular web videos, will “shut down BlackBerry trash talk once and for all,” according to the BBM Generation website. As a company that has wrestled with the public perception of its BlackBerry as a device behind the times, RIM’s campaign urges users to “sign up to be the first to know when these guys start putting BlackBerry naysayers on blast.”

Being cool is hard. Microsoft used to take a lot of heat for striving to maintain the status quo with its iterations of Windows and Office, but the company was comfortable in the proverbial navy blue, three-button suit: Nothing flashy, but it got the job done. When Apple unexpectedly rose from a zombie-like state to claim the monopoly on coolness in tech, Microsoft was forced to step up its game. Although things are looking hopeful now — Windows Phone is gaining users everyday, and Windows 8’s Metro interface has the Internet buzzing with the unmitigated ecstasy typically reserved for those certain products that only come in glossy white or black — it was a long road to hipness for Redmond. Remember those Jerry Seinfeld and Bill Gates buddy commercials that were both too long and extremely unfunny? Hey, you’ve got to crack a few eggs to make an omelette, or an exciting OS in this case.

Which is why it’s so hard to watch BlackBerry, tech-innovator of a bygone era, stutter in its attempts to appeal to a younger generation of smartphone and tablet users. As corporate IT policies evolved over the last few years and became increasingly tolerant of employees bringing their own devices to work, the consumerization of business technology took a significant toll on RIM’s bottom line. IT administrators have always loved BlackBerry for its secure OS and easy manageability in large-scale environments, but according to recent studies, only 7 percent of IT admins plan on increasing their use of RIM products in the future. And so the BlackBerry brand is left with a seeming paradox on its hands: Be cool to survive in the business world that made the company a success by being reliably boring. Explaining the tidal shift in consumer tastes, a source close to RIM told BGR last year “They’re selling a screen with a giant calculator attached to it. It’s not a cool device anymore.”

Youth appeal

To this end, BlackBerry has become increasingly adventurous with its advertising lately. The inescapable “Be Bold” campaign drafted popular bloggers to opine on their boldest moments. In a much-covered misstep, RIM anthropomorphized a social networking survey it conducted over Twitter into a cartoon super-hero team that featured “Gogo Girl: The Achiever” and “Justin Steele: The Advocate.” The ad was widely derided by users, prompting one participant to comment that she would “now carry my BB in a brown paper sack in order to avoid public mockery,” according to The New York Times. RIM even went so far as to issue a mea culpa over the ad, saying the super heroes were “not a new ad campaign,” and would only be making a “one-time appearance,” according to The Times article.

Although former RIM CEO Mike Lazaridis is widely regarded as a keen visionary who recognized a void in business communication and filled it with the BlackBerry, he was also seen by RIM insiders as a boss stuck in his ways. As BGR quoted a source inside RIM’s Waterloo headquarters at the dawn of the iPhone launch, “Mike is convinced people won’t buy an iPhone because it doesn’t have a battery as good as a BlackBerry.” Although Lazaridis is no longer running the company, his replacement, Thorsten Heins, may not be moving far enough from Lazaridis’s outmoded view of the smartphone industry. Although it’s still unclear what BlackBerry will be doing with its College Humor spokespeople, the move looks to be much of the same.

Image Credit: Inside BlackBerry

Product Review

Huawei’s monster Mate 20 X makes the Galaxy Note 9 look small

The Huawei Mate 20 X has a 7.2-inch screen, but is surprisingly manageable to hold, yet still a little too big to carry around. Huawei’s pushing the phone’s ability as a mobile gaming handheld, challenging the Nintendo Switch.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this summer with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.

The hottest Nintendo Switch games you can get right now

The Nintendo Switch's lineup started off small, but games have steadily released as the console continues through its second year. Here are the best Nintendo Switch games available now, from Super Mario Odyssey to Fortnite.

Is the Pixelbook 2 still happening? Here's everything we know so far

What will the Pixelbook 2 be like? Has the Pixel Slate taken its place? Google hasn't announced it, but thanks to rumors and leaks, we think we have a pretty good idea of what the potential new flagship Chromebook will be like.

Qualcomm’s ‘Snapdragon 1000’ could bring octa-cores to Windows laptops

The rumored Qualcomm Snapdragon 1000 CPU may bring the octa-core design of mobiles and tablets to Windows laptops, offering four powerful cores for high performance, and four low-power cores for efficiency.

Need a do-over? Here's how to factory reset an iPhone, from XS on down

Resetting an iPhone can alleviate all sorts of software woes, and wipe away personal data should you sell your device or give it to someone else. Here's how to factory reset an iPhone from within iOS or iTunes.

Camera shootout! Testing the latest Pixel, iPhone, and Galaxy Note in real life

Which takes the best photos, the Pixel 3 XL, iPhone XS Max, Galaxy Note 9, or Pixel 2 XL? We put the cameras on all these top-notch phones through their paces to see which performs best in the real world, from low light to portrait mode…

How to sell your old Google Pixel or Pixel 2 for the most money

So, it's time for a expensive new smartphone, and you'd like to partially fund the purchase by selling your old Google Pixel. Find all the information you need to get as much money as possible for your Pixel or Pixel 2 here in our guide.

The OnePlus 6T is coming a day earlier, event moved to October 29

According to a recent report, the launch of the OnePlus 6T could be different from any other OnePlus launch in history. How? It could have the backing of a major U.S. carrier. Here's everything we know about the OnePlus 6T.

Sprint now lets you add Hulu's Live TV service to your unlimited plan

Sprint recently introduced three new data plans to its roster -- Unlimited Basic , Unlimited Plus, and Unlimited Premium. Here, we break down your options to help you decide which one is best for you and your family.

Sams's Club offers $100 gift cards for iPhone XR pre-orders

After months of rumors and speculation, Apple has finally taken the wraps off of the new iPhone XS, iPhone XS Max, and iPhone XR. Now that the phones are out, you might be wondering how you can get them for yourself.

It’s about time! A USB-C magnetic charger for the Apple Watch has finally arrived

While most of the buzz surrounding Apple has been about the iPhone XR, the company also introduced a new Apple Watch accessory. Starting October 24, a USB-C magnetic charger will be available for purchase.
Home Theater

Google Chromecast and Chromecast Ultra: Everything you need to know

Google's Chromecast plugs into your TV's HDMI port, allowing you to stream content from your tablet, laptop, or smartphone directly to your TV. Here's what you need to know about all iterations, including the 4K-ready Chromecast Ultra.
Product Review

Amazon’s child-friendly tablet is the complete package

Kids are tough on electronics and it’s difficult to police screen time and manage what they’re doing. The Amazon Fire HD 8 Kids Edition could be the affordable answer to your prayers, with a rugged case and worry-free warranty.