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.
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?