BlackBerry unveiling, RIM's rebranding sets Internet abuzz

TORONTO – If a product’s value was measured in online buzz, the latest incarnation of the BlackBerry would be priceless.

The Internet was all of a twitter on Wednesday as the company once known as Research In Motion unveiled its newest products, its new corporate identity and its latest high-profile addition to the executive team.

Chatter about the newly rebranded BlackBerry, as well as the latest incarnations of its now-eponymous smartphone, dominated social media.

Statistics provided by the Marketing Cloud suggest there were more than 111,000 online mentions of the BlackBerry 10 by mid-afternoon, mere hours after chief executive Thorsten Heins wrapped up his presentation on the company’s latest efforts to reclaim dominance in the crowded smartphone market.

Social media chatter between 1a.m. and 1 p.m. ET was 70 per cent positive, the surveying company added.

Posts poured in from around the world, with the bulk of the traffic coming from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Venezuela and India.

More than 93 per cent of the conversation unfolded on Twitter, where BlackBerry-related hashtags and references were trending throughout Canada for much of the day.

The chatter mostly centred on the BlackBerry 10, the smartphone on which the Waterloo, Ont.-based company has pinned its hopes for a comeback.

The new phone drew a variety of reactions. Several users took to the web to share their excitement over the pending launch and praise BlackBerry for issuing an attractive new product.

“I’m sick of waiting, the more info I get, the more I can’t wait,” one user tweeted.

“I’m having an iPhone mid-life crisis. I’m impressed by the BB10,” wrote another.

Others, however, voiced skepticism that the new phone — which will be available in both a touch screen and keyboard model — will be enough to revive the company’s flagging fortunes.

“Can’t believe the saints on Twitter are using words such as ‘stoked’ to describe excitement over #BB10 when God has given us iOS & Android,” read one tweet.

“#BB10 is the new Star Wars movie. We want it to be good, but it won’t be,” wrote another user.

Jokes at BlackBerry’s expense flew faster after its shares tumbled to close down almost 12 per cent in Toronto by the end of launch day.

The company also came in for a certain amount of online derision for appointing R&B diva Alicia Keys as its new global creative director.

Heins touted Keys’ “vast network of relationships in the entertainment, social media and business communities” during his glitzy presentation, but the pitch wasn’t enough to convince the online peanut gallery.

“If Justin Timberlake can’t save Myspace, then I’m pretty sure Alicia Keys can’t save BB10. I’m so confused by that choice,” wrote one Twitter user.

Others felt the company should have looked closer to home for a celebrity spokesperson.

“Carly Rae Jepsen would’ve been a better Global Creative Director for BB. She’s Canadian and #BB10 can ‘call you maybe’.”

Reaction on other social media platforms was much more muted, according to’s figures.

Facebook users, who accounted for only two per cent of the global online buzz, were slow to weigh in on the launch. A fan page for the new device had garnered fewer than 150 supporters by late afternoon Wednesday.

Online buzz may be a sign of interest, but the true impact of the new products, professional brand and personnel at BlackBerry remains to be seen. The touchscreen version of the new phones will be available in Canada next week, and as one Twitter user noted, their sales figures will have the final word.

“Everybody will tweet about #BB10, lets see how many of you actually buy it.”