Apr 11

Plight of the PlayBook speechwriter

Some jobs in this world are too daunting for us regular folk to ponder: astronaut … fireman … flagpole sitter … PlayBook speechwriter…

I mean it takes some fancy writing to get around the challenges of a tablet flung into head-on competition with iPad when it’s not yet fully cooked. I can only imagine the call RIM co-CEO Jim Balsillie made to his speechwriter before his recent Bloomberg interview.

BALSILLIE: Listen, Tex, I need your help. We gave some PlayBooks out to reporters, and the reviews are coming back pretty bad.

TEX: Geez, Jim. Why’d you go and do something like that? I thought that thing wasn’t going to be ready for another six months.

BALSILLIE: Water under the bridge. I need some good quotes fast. I’m on Bloomberg in an hour.

TEX: Okay, but I get my hazardous duty rate for this.

BALSILLIE: Yeah, whatever. Listen, you can bet your booties that the Bloomberg lady is going to go right for the jugular. She’s going to ask why PlayBook doesn’t have a built-in email client.

TEX: You’re kidding me. It doesn’t? How can you ship a tablet without built-in email?

BALSILLIE: It’s not so bad. You just have to connect it to a BlackBerry and do your email through that.

TEX (covering the receiver to hide his chuckling): If I have my BlackBerry with me, why wouldn’t I just use that to do my email?

BALSILLIE: You’re missing the point. PlayBook is a tablet. People love tablets. They’re buying millions of iPads.

TEX: Well, yeah, but iPad has built-in email.

BALSILLIE: Okay, I’ve got an idea. What if I say, “You can pair it with your BlackBerry for free.” People love free things, right? It’s cool that PlayBook doesn’t have built-in email because you can get it for free by plugging it into your BlackBerry.

TEX: But it’s already free on iPad.

BALSILLIE: Exactly. We’ll both have it for free!

TEX: (eye roll)

BALSILLIE: Good, so we’ll do that. Now about this app thing. Little problem there.

TEX: Like?

BALSILLIE: Like we have 3,000 apps and iPad has over 60,000.

TEX: How about “they’re really, really great apps”?

BALSILLIE: I was thinking of another approach. How about “We’ve got 100,000 apps”?

TEX: You just said you only had 3,000 apps.

BALSILLIE: We do. But we’re going to get more.

TEX: You’re confusing me.

BALSILLIE: We’re figuring out a way to run Android apps on this puppy. Probably in the summer.

TEX: Still, you’d be talking about something you don’t have now. And who knows how well this “Android emulation” thing will really work.

BALSILLIE: Your point?

TEX: Look, I think your best way out of this mess is to just do what Steve Jobs does. Use a lot of superlatives. Keep repeating them.

BALSILLIE: I don’t get it.

TEX: Think style, not substance. I’ve jotted down half a dozen quips here already. Memorize these: “It’s super-super fast.” “It’s ultraportable.” “It’s an amazing platform.” “We’re in an exceptional position.” “I feel incredibly bullish.”

BALSILLIE: Wow. You’re good.

TEX: You can do this, Jim. Remember, they have email, we have email. They have apps, we have apps. They have 3G, we have—

BALSILLIE: Uh, we don’t have 3G yet. Coming soon.

TEX: What? How can you possibly sell a tablet to business people without 3G?

BALSILLIE: Uh … can we just find a superlative for that?

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  • Riz

    Hilarious. You topped yourself Ken. I fell from my chair at the end.

    The moral of the story: The modern corporation is so uncreative that they simply cannot create anything.

    I urge everyone to watch Sir Ken Robinson’s TED piece on how education kills creativity.

    Unless we change the way our companies work and shareholders allow people like Steve Jobs to have free rein, we are all doomed.

  • Joost

    What I still really don’t get is why would you name a product for the bussinessmarket a PLAYbook?

    And he obviously looks like a moron standing there playing with his Playbook..

  • Bmcfadden

    Add another one to the DOA pile. This is beginning to be a slaughter.