The Further Convergence of Work & Play

On the rapid road of mobile technology, it was only a relatively short time ago in business communications, when replying to practically any e-missive an auto sign-off, “sent from my BlackBerry” carried timely caché.

BlackBerry held the brand mantle of work. The tagged reply implied, “I am busily rushing between important meetings and in transit, always on the go, oh and by the way, I live and breathe work 24/7.”

Primarily an email device, while pushing those important memos to the top, it was the gadget of choice for professionals. But a funny thing happened on the way to the office. The formal world once inhabited by suit-wearing professionals became casual.

At first glance, working in this untailored, laid-back den, didn’t look much different from lounging, the very physical space resembled an arcade.

Effortfully, in the hopes of attracting the young and savvy, captains of avant-garde industry like Google and Apple remade the physical space of office architecture to include billiards tables and pinball machines.

The cultural change was consequently downloaded by offices everywhere. In keeping with the interior world of work, it followed that the virtual world of the road warrior would likewise carry any number of playful communicative devices — a style of contactive weaponry equally user friendly.

Just as the physical space and design of office architecture evolved to include cushy couches and comfy ottomans to “brainstorm,” the way we chat slouched back into an overly relaxed mode.

Mobile communication expressed as texting, friending, skyping, tweeting, etc., overtook the overburdened email inbox.

It makes fiscal sense then that Apple, the maker of the sassy iPhone, became the world’s most valuable brand, with an estimated value of more than $153 billion, according to a report by Millward Brown, a market-research arm of London advertising giant WPP.

The dollar value of Apple’s brand surged 84 percent from last year, helping the company vault to the top of the global rankings from its No. 3 spot last year, the study said.

Interestingly, in another part of the orchard — and at the same time — Apple plucked the top spot of B2B brands as determined by American City Business Journals, parent company of the Baltimore Business Journal, knocking Southwest Airlines (another brand that excelled by playing it casual) to No. 2.

It’s worth noting not only Apple and Southwest, two beloved consumer brands, made the top 10 B2B list, but so did other brands that blur the line between work and play: UPS, FedEx, Staples and Sony.

Rigidly descending, Research In Motion (RIM), maker of BlackBerry, has been in a tailspin with its stock hovering around its lowest level in five years. They are no longer the smart phone of choice for the business set.

Even now, with its latest attempt to muscle in on the already crowded tablet market with a device coined “PlayBook,” it will be hard for BlackBerry, a brand hardwired in the mind as all about work, to convince customers it’s something different.

Read more: Blame lack of fun for BlackBerry’s drop from must-have to afterthought | Baltimore Business Journal

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