Research In Motion Ltd. (RIM), taking the name of its best-known product, will now be known simply as BlackBerry, part of a comeback plan that includes unveiling a redesigned line of smartphones today.
The new name has been approved by the board and the company will begin trading under the ticker BBRY on the Nasdaq Stock Market and BB in Toronto, Chief Marketing Officer Frank Boulben said in an interview. The change is designed to put the Waterloo, Ontario-based company’s iconic product at the heart of its corporate branding, he said.
“What’s very important as we start the marketing of BlackBerry 10 in the U.S. is to signal that it’s a new start, that we’ve made a number of radical changes,” Boulben said in an interview. “We’re coming back with something truly different.”
Chief Executive Officer Thorsten Heins is unveiling the first phones built on the BlackBerry 10 operating system this morning in New York. The new software is designed to let users multitask more effectively than on rival devices, including the iPhone. Heins is looking to grab the attention of smartphone buyers who have dumped their aging BlackBerrys in recent years for Apple Inc. (AAPL) and Google Inc.’s Android.
BlackBerry is set to introduce two models today: a touch- screen version and one with a physical qwerty keyboard. The touch version will go on sale first, with the other following in the coming weeks.
The name BlackBerry was coined in 1999 because of the resemblance of the device’s black keys to a berry’s drupelets. The brand went on to eclipse the renown of the Research In Motion name, which was coined by company founder Mike Lazaridis. Customers in many parts of the world already know the company as BlackBerry, Boulben said.
The company has discussed dropping the RIM name for some time, said Boulben, who was hired as marketing chief last May.
“The idea had already been floating around before my arrival,” he said. “But I certainly started to push and advocate for it as soon as I joined.”
Since taking the post, Boulben also has sought to streamline a fragmented marketing organization, which had local executives reporting to the company’s country heads rather than the marketing boss. Adding to the muddle were the names for the different smartphone models and its PlayBook tablet, which not all users associated with the company, he said.
“We were becoming a house of brands -- with Research In Motion, BlackBerry and then all those franchises: Bold, Curve, Torch, PlayBook,” he said. “We said, ‘We should put the BlackBerry brand at the center.’”
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