How BlackBerry Missed The Boat on Justin Bieber

How BlackBerry Missed The Boat on Justin BieberThis is the first time – and hopefully the last time – MMW has mentioned Justin Bieber. But invoking the pop star’s name is not without mobile merit today. Just ask the folks at BlackBerry.

This week, an in-depth look at the rise and fall of BlackBerry (a must-read piece from BusinessWeek) exposes how the iPhone, and not BlackBerry, ultimately won the heart of Justin Bieber.

Several years ago, we’re told, Justin Bieber wanted to be BlackBerry’s official “brand ambassador.” That’s the new admission from Vincent Washington, a senior business development manager at BlackBerry (from 2001 through 2011).

Before blowing up as one of today’s biggest celebrity superstars, Justin Bieber wanted $200,000 to be a BlackBerry poster boy.

But RIM – the former corporate name of BlackBerry – took a pass.

“One thing we missed out on,” Washington reveals, “was that Justin Bieber wanted to rep BlackBerry. 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. 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.”

Ever since the BlackBerry diss, Bieber has repeatedly shared his affinity for Apple’s iPhone in public, on Twitter, and even in concert. And Apple didn’t have to pay him a cent.

It’s all payback for BlackBerry, a company that could have used some Bieber Fever in recent years.

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