The Real Test
Another Fine Homemade Parachute Page, Crafted With Love
realgreater1 test for RIM will come early next year, when the company launches the first of its brand new mobile devices powered by the QNX operating system. RIM will eventually move all its high-end devices to the new operating system, and much of the company’s future rests on whether its QNX phones can close the gap with the market leaders, Apple’s iPhone and a slew of phones powered by Google’s Android operating system.
— Omar Akkad, The Globe and Mail
I don't pretend to be a genius at marketing; I don't even pretend to be an "amateur". I remember a few things from Marketing 101 in the last year of design school, one of which was reiterated from first year Creative Process, second year Design Process, and frankly a whole undergrad degree in English Literature, and that is this: you may make it, but you don't control it. You make art, it goes out into the world, and people are free to interpret it as they wish. Your brand is not your logo, but a collection of beliefs, impressions, values, thoughts, and expectations around your logo, your product, your organization. You can't control what people think, now or in the future.
As I say, pretty basic stuff. In the English seminars, it came up a lot under the guise of the Intentional Fallacy. This week, Microsoft has been showing off an OS probably a year away from public consumption. This week, they announced that Flash, which Adobe has promised will deliver a smooth, not-battery-draining experience “real soon now”, will not be a part of the default tablet web browser. Adobe has been facing "the real test" for a while now. Thijs van der Vossen tweeted “Flash already died way back in 2007.” Adobe, in the minds of many, has been failing that test, clearly losing a lot (though not all) of the good will it had spent the larger part of a decade building up in the web design world through Flash, Dreamweaver, and, dare I, the former Lingo programmer, say, Shockwave. Yes, they always had detractors, but they didn't seem like the punch like of a joke like they do now. Designers and developers had technical and philosophical differences with Macromedia, sure, but the widespread exasperation with Adobe is new.
The real test for RIM is today. It was yesterday, and it'll be tomorrow as well. The real test is always now. It can't be put off, there's no sick note, and there's no makeup. There aren't any rewrites. RIM can't put their brand expectations on hold for a year. We're not all going to shut up for a year. We're not going to stop paying attention for a year. If by some strange chance they could pause their image, like Canute, they couldn't stop the world. When, according to the G+M, RIM faces its “real” test next year, they will of course face an Apple, Google, and Microsoft that have been facing some tests of their own. And, as Chairman Gruber often notes, many of us don't grade on a curve.