Over the past few months I have been carefully following the news and reviews about Blackberry’s new tablet, the Playbook. I’m not exactly sure why, but something about Blackberry has sparked my interest lately. (Basically, I think their future is looking disastrous… but that’s a topic for another day.) I’ve been surprised by the significant amount of advertising that Blackberry has been rolling out for the Playbook. I’ve seen tons of internet ads, and A LOT of Playbook ads during the NHL Playoffs as well. Blackberry has been running a few different ads, and each seems to have a slightly different marketing message. Is this for college kids? Gamers? Business Exectives? Email junkies?

One of the ads that really irks me is this “Power” ad that has been running on TV lately. The tag line is: “The new Blackberry Playbook, it runs all of this… at the same time.” The video starts off by showing a Thor movie (trailer?) and then the user multitasks to a racing game, and then to a music video, and finally to a snowboard movie. I’ve seen demos of the Playbook before, and it is quite impressive that it’s able to stream all of those things at once. Don’t get me wrong. But, what I don’t understand is why a customer would want/need to do this. You can only watch a single video stream at a time… why would you want other 1080p videos to be running in the background on your tablet? What does this do to the battery life? Here’s the commercial:

Another example of the confusing marketing messages is this screenshot from the Playbook’s homepage. The tag line here is: “The world’s first professional-grade tablet.”

I’m not at all surprised that Blackberry is pitching this as a professional-grade, enterprise tablet. These are the type of users I would expect to be buying a Blackberry tablet. IT departments are looking to Blackberry to provide a tablet that integrates well into their existing security standards and presumably all of the Blackberry smartphones they have. However, this message becomes confusing when you pair it up with all of the other messages and ads showing the Playbook primarily as a media consumption device. Users are shown watching music videos and playing games, not banging out emails or working on PowerPoint presentations. It’s going to be hard for enterprise users to take this thing seriously.

Essentially, it all comes down to the fundamentals. A tablet commercial needs to convince people why they need the device. What does it do better than their laptop or smartphone? I don’t think that the Playbook commercials are really accomplishing this. “Look you can play 4 videos at once!!”. Great. But why? I don’t think the casual consumer cares about this.

Finally, let’s take a look at the Playbook’s biggest competitor, the iPad 2. What does the latest iPad commercial convey? The commercial directly addresses 6 different types of people/professions: parents, musicians, doctors, CEOs, teachers, and children. In the thirty second ad spot, Apple shows an example of a third party application which demonstrates the iPad’s capabilities for that type of person. This allows the iPad to appeal directly to millions of people who are able to closely relate to the demo. They’re hopefully thinking “Wow, I can definitely see myself doing that if I had an iPad.”

This is the emotional appeal that Apple marketing is so good at. They’re able to get down to the fundamentals and show people why they need the device.


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