My inbox this morning delivered the news that Blackberry is selling itself as (as The New Yorker puts it) scrap to the highest bidder. With a share price that has fallen to $10 and the company making a nett loss one can understand such a move.
I’ve never owned a Blackberry (though I had a Nokia E63 which is similar in design). In fact, the first time I really heard of Blackberry was when I read Dan Brown’s The Lost Symbol – one of the characters was permanently attached to one (much like President Obama). Shortly thereafter Blackberry became one of the most popular phones in South Africa (Coincidence? I wonder.) with many of my friends, relatives and colleagues making the switch.
On the one hand, I could understand their excitement, what with free messaging and internet and a host of other features. But then the stuff kept on breaking. The batteries would fail or it would randomly wipe out all their contacts, and we don’t even speak of how often the BB network just stopped working for days at a time. And yet, those users would vehemently defend their Blackberries against every critic, hailing it as the greatest phone ever in spite of the obvious evidence to the contrary, and when their contracts expired and they had the opportunity to upgrade to a new phone…they’d get another Blackberry. You don’t get that kind of loyalty anymore these days.
Sadly for them, the death warrant on that relationship has been signed. It’s not really as if it’s unexpected. Last year when it was reported that US government agencies were switching from Blackberry to Apple and Android products the writing was pretty much on the wall. (I remember reading the main reason was that Blackberry’s progress was simply not keeping up with their competitors leading to increased security vulnerabilities, which is ironic if you consider that security was originally one of their greatest selling points.)
Within a few years, as their batteries die one by one, droves of BB users will have to make the transition to regular phones and start paying again for sending text messages and using the internet like the rest of us.
It’s sad that Blackberry has to go out this way. They were the pioneers of the smartphone industry, after all. But much like Firefox and Chrome overtook Internet Explorer when the guys back at Microsoft sat back believing that they had themselves a perfect product, Blackberry has simply fallen behind its rivals and it’s just too late to try and catch up.
In the end, the world will go on. Between Apple and Android we’ll welcome the refugees from Blackberry while shaking our heads in despair at the foolish few who will turn back to Nokia – having paired with Windows they must surely be the next to go.
But the noble Blackberry will never be forgotten. Mention of a Blackberry will always remind me, for one, of this brilliant homage done by Ronnie Corbett and Harry Enfield. Maybe it might even help to lighten you emotional distress at the coming demise of your Blackberry…