BlackBerry turned down Bieber because 'he's not going to last'

According to Bloomberg Businessweek, the fine Canadian singer offered himself as a brand ambassador to his fellow Canadians for a mere $200,000 and 20 phones. He was rejected.

How could anyone turn down this magnetism? Justin Bieber/VEVO screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

Time and cruelty have a wicked relationship.

I fancy they sit in a bar together most nights and look back to see what they both have wrought.

That's why tonight they might be having a beer, a giggle, and dance at news that has just emerged about the company formerly known as RIM.

Bloomberg Businessweek has been chatting to quite a few current and former employees of BlackBerry in order to understand what went right and what went less right.

While you might be fascinated with some of the technological debates surrounding this fascinating company, I was moved by one sole tale.

It is the tale of a fine young Canadian who -- according to Vincent Washington, senior development manager at RIM between 2001 and 2011 -- came to his fellow Canadians with a very modern idea.

His idea was that he, Justin Bieber that is, a fine young Canadian, would become the brand ambassador for the fine maturing Canadian company.

Washington told Bloomberg Businessweek: "He said, 'Give me $200,000 and 20 devices, and I'm your brand ambassador,' basically. And we pitched that to marketing: Here's a Canadian kid, he grew up here, all the teeny-boppers will love that."

Naturally, the marketing people rose as one, jigged around the room and praised the heavens for this miraculous occurrence.

Said Washington: "They basically threw us out of the room. They said, 'This kid is a fad. He's not going to last.' I said at the meeting: 'This kid might outlive RIM." Everyone laughed."

Some might see this as Washington polishing his credentials. Still, it's a better idea than that had by anyone who's been handling BlackBerry's marketing since the company attempted to have any marketing at all.

Its efforts have lurched from the forgettable to the forgettable. Indeed, the highlight was perhaps its signing of Alicia Keys to be its brand ambassador.

This wondrous move was slightly tarnished when she tweeted from her iPhone and then offered the familiar explanation that she'd been hacked.

There's a turbulent serendipity in the fact that, if Washington is to be believ(er)ed -- and there's no reason to think his tale is tall -- this happened in the same year that Apple launched the iPhone.

As the iPhone and Bieber rose to fame, BlackBerry's rose became less fragrant by the day.

At the time, the company imagined that its strength in the business sector was unassailable.

It wasn't as if teens who bopped were even vaguely in its eyes. Except Bloomberg Businessweek's oral history offers that certain members of the sales force were a little more aware of what might be the coming reality -- smartphones in everyone's hands. Especially those of little girls.

It may well be that with his recent scrapes with mop buckets in hotel kitchens and alleged visits to brothels, Bieber himself might be enduring a slide.

His, though, would be a far more exciting demise than the lugubrious sinking into the sands of time of a brand that once held such sway.

 

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