There was a time we were so addicted we used to call them Crackberrys.

Before the iPhone arrived on the scene in 2007, the first smart phone that hooked many of us was the BlackBerry.  Legions of BlackBerry addicts couldn’t resist the fix of easily checking company email whenever, wherever they went.

A grim joke went like this. How do you know when a corporate executive dies? When the BlackBerry drops from his hand.

Now BlackBerry is on the hunt to recapture its mojo. In fact BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIM) is making a bet-the-company move to lure us away from our new obsessions: namely, Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android phone. This is an “all in” bet symbolized by the decision to even change the company name to BlackBerry.

The new BlackBerry is an all-touch device running on a new operating system. Sorry Crackberry diehards, that physical keyboard you loved so much is gone, replaced by a virtual keyboard.

The old operating system was great for email but a poor platform for app developers. As any iPhone or Android user knows, apps are where it’s at.

How to Win Friends and Influence Partners

So BlackBerry is going to need to make many deals if this bet is to pay off. The new and improved BlackBerry Z10 is launching with a fraction of the apps available from Apple and Google. Look for the phone to go on sale in mid-March. A second phone, with a physical keyboard to placate the truly addicted, is due out in April.

“I believe it has a chance of getting RIM back into the game, if the company can attract a lot more apps,” wrote personal technology guru Walter Mossberg in the Wall Street Journal.

We believe to hedge the bet, BlackBerry needs to go into major app developer deal-making mode. We recommend the following:

  1. Go with Quantity. The new store, BlackBerry World, will have around 70,000 apps. Sounds impressive until you understand that Apple and Google have more than ten times that amount and are on the road to 1 million apps. Perhaps you have seen the statistics from ZDNet that show Apple sells apps faster than McDonalds sells hamburgers. This is a numbers game and BlackBerry needs to sign up app developers fast. When you are faced with this kind of deal making scenario, you need to be willing to make inducements to foster better relations. At the end of the day this is about relationships. Success in business is often conferred upon us by outsider stakeholders: vendors, suppliers, regulators, consumer groups, analysts, legislatures, media and the like.
  2. Go with Quality. BlackBerry is starting with some winning apps like Facebook, Twitter and of course, Angry Birds. But no NPR, Google Maps or Netflix. People judge you by the company you keep. Consumers judge a store by the brands on the shelf. Again, spiffs and deal sweeteners may be in order. Do what it takes to get the marquee apps on board. 
  3. Go with Quickness. This is one of those instances where speed does not kill, speed keeps you alive. If the buzz gets out that the new and improved BlackBerry is lame because of a lack of apps, then BlackBerry will be in big trouble. So this is time for an all out blitz.

As an old CEO from the south was fond of saying “They need to get every hog, dog and frog they got on this.” Good hunting BlackBerry.

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