Constant Connectivity in a Wireless Age: The Discursive Promotional Strategies of the BlackBerry

By Rebecca D. Reeve

A thesis in the Department of Communication Studies

Presented in partial fulfillment of the requirements for a Masters of Arts (Media Studies) at Concordia University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada

© Rebecca D. Reeve, September 2007


This thesis examines the promotional discourse of the BlackBerry, the mobile email device made by Research in Motion, and the changes in the language used to promote the product as the target market has shifted from a business oriented audience to a consumer audience. The transition has been achieved through the creation of the BlackBerry Pearl, which has leveraged the BlackBerry's reputation for increasing productivity and efficiency in business contexts and repositioned those qualities as desirable in the management of one's personal life. I claim that when personal events are described in business terms, as they are in the promotional materials for the Pearl, the result of the converged frames of reference is a discourse of the "professionalized personal." The merger of personal and work spheres originates from the neoliberal principle of increased efficiencies and productivity that is present in many organizations. This work provides historical and social context for the development of RIM and the BlackBerry and then moves into a reading of RIM's promotional discourses as well as the discourses of the popular media and scholars on the subject.


Asked why I was leaving a "good" job to return to school, I responded that it was because I hoped that an additional degree would open doors to better and more interesting work. I come away from the past two years in Montreal knowing that it has been more valuable than any job opportunity and that what I've learned is applicable across all areas of life. To all those who challenged me - in and out of class - thank you. I am thankful for my friendships with Craig, Fernando, Heather, Jeff, and Sarah; from the rambling conversations to the carefully considered thesis feedback, their presence made the past two years possible and enjoyable.

My experience at Concordia University was full of surprises, one of which was the opportunity to work with Professor Leslie Regan Shade as my thesis supervisor. Professor Regan Shade's guidance made for a more interesting project as she pointed me in directions I would have never otherwise explored. Her immense body of knowledge is matched by an equally boundless commitment to students, of which I am a grateful recipient. Professor Rob Danisch and Professor Bill Buxton provided valuable insights during the writing process and defence that have sharpened the final paper.

I am especially indebted to my family, whose example, support, and love is a gift that guides and enables me in everything I do.

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