News Column

BlackBerry Stock Makes Name for Itself

Feb 5, 2013

Marie Szaniszlo

Shares of the company formerly known as Research in Motion rose 15 percent yesterday on its first day of trading since rebranding itself BlackBerry.

After the company's Super Bowl ad a day earlier for the BlackBerry 10 operating system upgrade, the stock closed at $14.98 and continued to rise in after-hours trading, boosted by an analyst's upgrade of the stock.

Jeff Freedman, founder and CEO of the Boston advertising agency Small Army, said BlackBerry's decision to rename itself after its smartphone -- a top-selling device among mostly corporate users until it was eclipsed by Apple's iPhone -- was still a wise strategic move.

"They probably should have done it years ago," Freedman said. "BlackBerry is the name people know, and it definitely has a loyal following. But clearly they need to deliver on the technology. Either they're going to win people back with a superior product, or they're not going to survive."

Last week, the company introduced the BlackBerry 10, a new operating system, and a touchscreen phone -- moves that could be the company's last chance to become relevant again. Then it followed the release with Sunday's pricey Super Bowl commercial, which Boston ad man Steve Connelly said fell "dramatically short."

"They're going to have to articulate a niche if they're going to compete," said Connelly, president of Connelly Partners. "It's folly to take on smartphones and be just another smartphone."

The iPhone used to be considered a toy, he said, and the BlackBerry was considered a tool.

"But that's not the case any more," Connelly said. "It has to be a smartphone for grownups, not for old farts."

Source: (c)2013 the Boston Herald. Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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