Friday, July 15, 2011

RIM and the power of metaphor

I've been reading a lot about what analysts think of RIM these days.  I can't help it--I've a vested interest in the unfolding drama.  As a result, I'm also becoming even more keenly aware of the power of the word.

We all know one of the primary uses of language is a persuasive one.  Nowhere is this more apparent than today's media.  Blogs are going to be biased--that's part of their charm.  But articles in respected journals seem to have followed suit.  News used to be a lot less "flavourful", communicating the story without the bias of the reporter.  But media today doesn't seem to like it dry--everywhere are sprinkled metaphors that reveal the disposition of the author.  And if they aren't woven into the story themselves, the quotes that are chosen reveal enough of the preferred slant.

Here's two examples I grabbed from one article and analyst, who I'll leave unnamed.  I don't have the text in front of me, so I'm going to paraphrase.

I haven't seen a Phoenix rise from the ashes often; it happens, but it's rare.
The first thing I thought when I read this is that RIM isn't exactly yet a smouldering wreckage, but it sure makes it seem that way.  You imagine RIM as this vast wasteland, the fallout of a nuclear bomb, the post apocalyptic smoking ruin of a once burgeoning enterprise.  The view from over my cube wall is not quite so grim, thankfully to say.  The second thing I thought was that the metaphor is 100% incorrect.  Isn't it the definition of a Phoenix to rise from the ashes?

A soufflé doesn't rise twice.
Again, very doomsday.  Makes you think of a sad little pastry, sagging and over-browned in the oven.  The deflated soufflé almost makes it seem that it's impossible for RIM to do anything but collapse and burn.  Of course, it oversimplifies to the point of absurdity.  That burning, sagging mess is just a mix of flour and eggs.  Not an international company with tens of thousands of employees and billions in revenue.  The soufflé isn't full of talented people working tirelessly to build innovative products and restore lustre and fortunes.

I was trying to think of a cute way to combine these two metaphors into one, but I couldn't come up with anything witty.  But I do think the predictions of RIM's demise are slightly premature.

1 comment:

  1. So you, too, noticed the strong antipathy of the press against RIM. Weird, isn't it? I can shed some light onto it. Journalists are often, statistically, left wingers. RIM, on the other hand, traditionally is for the "rich businessmen". Need I say more?