BlackBerry PlayBook: What’s in a name?

Over here in San Francisco, even the iPhone-totting Valley locals are generally nodding with approval at RIM’s latest creation, the BlackBerry PlayBook tablet. The device name has warranted just a cursory nod before discussions of price, availability and other such issues.

Abroad, however, it’s a slightly different story. I’ve had a lot of emails and a good few Tweets asking what I think of the brand.

I like it.

When I first heard the name, I was prompted to think of the device in a business-cum-personal context. I liked the contrast between ‘playbook’ in the context of plans and strategy mixed in with a dollop of entertainment.

But I’ve spent quite a bit of time steeped in North American culture, where the term ‘playbook’ is synonymous with American Football. Here’s one definition of the term I found online:

A book of strategies (plays) for use in American football 

You can’t walk into a sports bar in America without a Sports TV anchor going on about ‘the playbook’. It’s a ubiquitous term widely understood.

‘PlayBook’ everywhere else — at least in the UK — is the kind of thing I’ll shortly be buying my 3-month-old Son. You know, Spot The Dog, Burglar Bill, that kind of thing.

Hence the initial confusion echoing across the webosphere yesterday from the European side of the Atlantic.

Conventional PR and marketing wisdom is that you can take almost any word or jumble of letters and make it mean what you want.

That said, I don’t necessarily think it’s a problem. I don’t think the name will put executives off purchasing them.

That’s my feeling. What do you think?

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  • http://twitter.com/richardcyates Richard Yates

    I think its a big mistake personally – I can’t imagine any organisation I deal with buying a “playbook” for their employees, especially when the web page demoes games. But I don’t think RIM expect to sell many in Europe anyway, launching it when they are. As for tying it to a blackberry. One word comes to mind “Foleo”. Oh and I am a blackberry user

  • Anonymous

    Daft name. And that comes from someone who upon hearing it for the first time immediately thought of American Football.

    For the rest of the world it should be re-branded in my opinion. Or they could just ignore the rest of the world.

  • http://www.jim-newton.net Jim Newton

    I’ve heard the term “strategy playbook” used in a business context but only in US companies or companies with a strong US-based culture. Agree with other comments here, not sure how well it will go with corporate customers outside of North America.

    That said, it could all be part of the plan to add impetus to RIM’s push to get the Blackberry brand into the minds of non-corporate consumers.

  • Anonymous

    Nintendo Wii. Need I go on ;-) Though in a corporate/consumer sense outside of North America BlackBook would be far better name.

  • Anonymous

    I actually thought that, as far as the UK market went, the Wii was rather aptly named. Either people compared it to the bodily excretion or they took the name to refer to it’s size. Either way people seemed to see the sense in the name. And it was Nintendo as well. “Blackberry Playbook” doesn’t sound right in any context to me. And certainly here in Finland the comments over the name that I have heard tend to be ones of mild disbelief and humour!

  • Anonymous

    Whatever the name if it delivers as promised it won’t matter what its called. We’ll all call it the Blackberry Tablet anyway in the same way we refer to the Blackberry phone models as a Blackberry.

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