I am, maybe without proper justification, annoyed at @neilhimself, Neil Gaiman compromising a certain amount of integrity to try and help sad Blackberry avoid going through corporate hospice care. Perhaps it is out of pity or a fascination with death (this time, the death of corporate profits) that has caused an honorable and independent artist, responsible for groundbreaking works of genius to (a) appear in a Super Bowl ad and (b) use his creativity and genius to promote a mere piece of commerce. To the best of my knowledge, Blackberry shares none of Mr. Gaiman’s values regarding creativity, aesthetic exhilaration and the healing power of pure beauty. On the contrary, this is a company (formerly known as Research in Motion) that rose to the highest success making a purely functional device that the most conservative and least artistic members of our society could use as they would go to war against others in the unending fight to defeat competition and satisfy shareholders. Blackberry was dependable, basic, useful. You could trust that device. It wouldn’t let you down. A solid weapon for battle.
So, really, I should not begrudge Mr. Gaiman a few extra shekels in his pocket to do what he would be doing anyway – creating, writing, interacting with his audience. I should be more appalled at the stupidity of Blackberry for giving up on its own identity so that it could pretend to “think different.” Instead of using the Windows model and leveraging what they do best. Microsoft Windows 8 is the same on your phone as on your desktop. And it is the same on the tablet. Everything is unified with Windows 8. There is one operating system and it works. On everything. Considering how many people already use Windows products every day, it’s pretty exciting to consider what comes next.
But did Blackberry takes its broad user base and attempt to innovate a more unified and modern product? Looks like no. Instead, they appear to be chasing a competitor that is so far down the road, it probably forgot that Blackberry even exists. Blackberry wants to be Apple. That might have been an OK idea two or three years ago, but now? Now it just looks sad.
And there is a sadness to Neil Gaiman. Not because of this silly ad campaign for a second rate product that no one will buy, but because he sees heartache and the grim realities of pain and loss. And he writes about them. And considering what’s going to happen to his new bosses soon, maybe they picked the perfect pitchman.
But I’m still annoyed.