BlackBerry reaching eponym status


Kleenex. Band-Aid. Frisbee. Google. Hands up - someone tell me what these words have in common. You’re more stumped than a bulldozed rainforest, aren’t you? These words are all proprietary eponyms, silly. An eponym is essentially a word that encapsulates the product it’s describing. Say for example you’ve managed to squeeze a sneeze out before that important business meeting, you wouldn’t ask for a “soft facial tissue”, you’d ask for a Kleenex (which is actually a brand name).

So my question is: is the BlackBerry slowly getting to that kind of eponymical status?

I’d say so. Nowadays whenever folks are seen typing away on some sort of handheld device, instead of calling it a PDA, I’ve been noticing that it’s slowly evolved into “they’re on a BlackBerry.” Whenever news reports talk about mobile devices, they don’t namecheck the BlackJack or Q, they use BlackBerry. And that picture that I used above? That was taken from someone’s Flickr account where the photo had the title “Get off your BlackBerry” when it’s obvious that this gentleman is on a Treo.

And that’s how it starts, I think. Society’s misinformation and lack of interest is slowly turning “BlackBerry” into one of those words that will never go away (well, for a while, at least). Do you folks have any instances where you’ve seen BlackBerrys represent even more than what they already are? Share with the class, would you?

7 Responses to “BlackBerry reaching eponym status”

  1. 1 Krad


    I can’t tell you how many clients I have refer to their samsung/mda/treos as “blackberries”…

    or just the concept of push email as “blackberry”.

    The only way I know they are using wm5 devices, is when they say their blackberries aren’t working.


  2. 2 Christopher

    Its funny because whenever I drive onto a military installation they have a sign stating that cell phone use and using blackberry devices are prohibited while driving. So yeah, blackberrys are getting to be known for all smartphone/pda devices.

  3. 3 Robb (RIMarkable)

    Hey Steve,

    I just tracked back to this post with a conversation that I had with a couple of buddies during the playoffs last year.

    It illustrates your point perfectly…

  4. 4 Thought

    No doubt that the BlackBerry brand name has come to stand for the generic class of this device.

    I agree with what others have noted: that most call any smartphone a “blackberry.”

  5. 5 Flarris.Bueller

    I Love It ! ! !

    I actually had someone come up to me about a week ago (while I was banging away an sms on my 8703e)
    The guy actually asked, very interestingly….

    “So, can you BlackBerry with that thing?”

    That is what I call CLASSIC, my friends!

  6. 6 L. M. Lloyd

    I actually think this isn’t quite like Kleenex or Band-Aid, but more like Nintendo or Playstation. There is a subtle, but rather big difference. A really good example would be Xerox. Even though Xerox doesn’t actually have the most market share in the copier industry anymore, many people still call all copiers a Xerox. With the game systems, however, people tend to call all game systems by the name of whoever is the leader at the moment. First they were all Ataris, then they were all Nintendos, then they were all Playstations. By the same token, I think all you are really seeing here is that Palm has been replaced with BlackBerry. I don’t think it has the same staying power as something like Band-Aid. I’m sure that as soon as something else is the hot new thing, that will replace BlackBerry as the term everyone uses.

  1. 1 RIMarkable

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