There's a line you often hear when interviewing Research In Motion employees that goes along the lines of "I cannot comment on rumor or speculation." That said, this is CrackBerry. So while the name BlackBerry Z10 is only rumored at this point to be the name of the first full touchscreen BlackBerry 10 phone to hit the market, we're definitely going to start making some comments.
BlackBerry Z10 - Is it Zee or Zed... or Both?!
First, let me say a few words on the letter Z when used in a product name like this. Remember, Research In Motion is Canadian, and like many/most countries around the world, Canadians pronounce it Zed. Which means assuming the BlackBerry Z10 name is true, the name is pronounced the BlackBerry Zed 10. However, that won't be the way anybody in the good 'ol US of A will say it. Americans pronounce the letter Z as Zee. So expect things to get a little funny around here in videos when you have Kevin calling this is the BlackBerry Zed 10 and Adam calling it the BlackBery Zee 10. Is this a problem? I don't think it **should** be - the world is full of different languages and different pronunciations, but I'll be curious to see how BlackBerry decides to refer to it on commercials and videos, which these days have global reach and hit eyeballs everywhere. Most of the world says Zed (see wikipedia). America says Zee. BlackBerry wants to see a resurgence in America. If they call it the BlackBerry Zee10, they cater to America, the market they want to win mindshare back in most. If they call it the BlackBerry Zed10, they're not.
Do I like the name Z10? You BET. I see this is an amazing omen for BlackBerry 10 from my standpoint. Seriously, it's meant to be. Let me pause for a personal story here. I started blogging back in 1996, before blogging was called blogging (I'd manually archive all my posts daily/monthly), on my website which was named Kevin's Kick Butt Ski-Doo website. Back then I was a Ski-Doo fanboy like I am a BlackBerry fan today. And you know what new snowmobile I was waiting for to hit the market at that time more than anything else in the world? The 1997 Ski-Doo MXZ 670, made by Bombardier (another Canadian-based company with global reach)! In my life up until that point, there was nothing I ever wanted to get my hands on more than that snowmobile. The wait for the first BlackBerry 10 phone has elicited the same type of feelings in me these past months as I felt 16 years ago waiting for the MXZ 670 to hit the market. Man was I excited to finally get my hands on it. So for the first BlackBerry 10 phone to have a Z in the name is just too perfect. It's like history for me is repeating itself. In a good way.
As for how Ski-Doo dealt with the Zed vs. Zee debate, if memory serves me correct it was actually mixed. I'd call it the MX Zee 670. But the company also sold products under the Mach Z and Formula Z lines, and for the Formula Z line people would typically say Formula Zed. The rule I developed for myself was if the Z comes at the end of the product name, especially if the preceeding word has a lot of syllables, you say Zed. If numbers follow it, Zee. So maybe it will come to be known as the BlackBerry Zee10. Who knows. If there's any language professors out there reading this, let us know in the comments if there are actually rules around this.
A Smart BMW-Like Branding Change
Over the years when talking about the BlackBerry product portfolio, I've often referred to BMW cars for an analogy. Every BMW you buy, regardless of the numbers/letters at the end, delivers that "Ultimate Driving Machine" experience, but they make it available to their customers in various flavors - 3 Series, 5 Series, etc. When somebody asks you what kind of car you drive, you usually just respond BMW (unless you're among BMW enthusiasts and you throw in something like the 535i).
The same has been true of BlackBerry over the years. You always get a similar BlackBerry experience, whether you choose a Curve, Bold, Torch, Style, etc. Ultimately, you're buying a BlackBerry and the BlackBerry experience. But in the past, the extra name between BlackBerry and the model number (9900, 9700, etc.) added a layer of branding to the phone. Arguably, it's unneeded and if anything has caused confusion over the years. Think Torch for example. When the Torch was just a slider that made sense. But then when RIM added a full touchscreen Torch to the line, it just muddled what was clear. With RIM already saying they're going to streamline the portfolio, it makes sense to scrap these family names and go back to putting all of the equity back into the mega brand, BlackBerry. A BlackBerry is a BlackBerry is a BlackBerry.
Think iPhone. An iPhone is an iPhone is an iPhone. The models change as new ones get released, but all of the brand equity is in the iPhone name. Assuming this BlackBerry Z10 name holds true, the approach here is similar. Why dilute BlackBerry with another family name? It's a BLACKBERRY. You need to differentiate one model from another though, so with a name like Z10 that's what BlackBerry is doing. And just like BMW's naming strategy, there's just something high class about it. I like Z10. It's high end.
Ok, that's enough commenting on rumor and speculation at this point. Let me know what you think.
Bottomline, you can call it the Zed 10, the Zee 10 or any other name you want... I just want it. Bring on the Z10!