An Ode to Blackberry
I am in mourning. I am a proud Canadian. Really, I am. We are, after all, the birthplace of Lululemon, Four Seasons hotels and Mark Carney. I wish Mr. Carney would develop a financial app, because I would buy it. If you're ever fortunate enough to book a room at a Four Seasons hotel somewhere in the world, you can count on the finest of absolutely everything. And you know you've made it big when every celebrity, from Kim Kardashian to The First Lady, is wearing your yoga pants.
And then there is Blackberry.
As the story goes, when RIM (Blackberry) co-founder Jim Balsillie pitched potential investors, he carried with him a wooden board that served as a rudimentary mock up of his vision of a portable, handheld device that would someday revolutionize the way we communicate, work, play and live.
He was right. No list of the World’s Most Influential Products Of The Last Decade would be complete without it, and for me it is at the top of that list.
The Blackberry smartphone was first released in 2003. (There was a Blackberry 2-way pager before that). In those days, Kristina and I were in the early days of shooting The Shopping Bags TV shows and looking back at pictures (the printed kind), there were a lot of bows on our clothing, and we had bangs.
When the Blackberry arrived in stores, I was a quick addict. It became an extension of my arm and, horrifically, there might have been a time or two I had it clipped to my belt (but never my bows).
The thing about television is, it takes a maddeningly long time to make it. If all goes according to plan, shooting our 22 minute show takes 4 days. Hours upon hours are spent setting up and getting lighting exactly right. Technical issues pop up daily. That means there is a lot of time spent standing around waiting.
Those hours used to be wasted time, especially since we were producing as well as appearing in our shows. There was a mountain of paperwork to do back at the office, meetings to attend and proposals to write.
The Blackberry meant we could deal with all the business of TV while making it at the same time. Brilliant.
I’ve been through more devices then I care to know after having dropped one after another in the toilet, a lake, an ocean, cake batter and forgotten on an airplane. No one on this planet can type as fast as I can on that keyboard (without even looking). If there was an Olympic event for BB typing, I would have all the gold medals.
But a lot has changed since 2003. And in the world of consumer products, nowhere is constant reinvention more important than in technology. There is always someone inventing something that’s faster, stronger and smarter. If you don’t keep up, you’ll be left in the dust faster then you can hit send.
I think that’s exactly what’s happened to Blackberry. Other smartphones came along that did everything a Blackberry can do, but consumers became convinced the others do it better.
For me It was always that keyboard that set Blackberry apart. I’d see the latest product release from across the street and be tempted by all its bells, whistles and general coolness, but I just couldn’t get a grip on the touchscreen typing. That, and I was loyal.
But if you’ve been following the news, you already know the writing’s on the wall. Blackberry has been losing market share at a rapid pace, slashing jobs and posting massive losses. Consumers are simply no longer convinced. What is widely believed to be the company’s last ditch product effort was the Blackberry Z10. It was an utter flop and millions of them are now sitting in warehouses somewhere as “experts” speculate about what’s going to come of the company.
Many say its value lies in its arsenal of software patents. If that were true then why aren’t Apple and Microsoft clammering to snap them up, keeping them from each other? Perhaps it is because they’ve developed their own brilliant software.
The one “offer” Blackberry did receive amounts to a limp letter of intent from a Canadian financial services holding company. What do they know about instant messaging and touch screen technology. Sorry, but I’ve got a life to live and I’m not going down with this ship.
And so it is with great sadness that I have decided the time has come to lay my Blackberry to rest. I’m pulling the plug.
My dear Crackberry, my constant companion, my trusted keyboard and sender of secure messages, I bid you adieu. I think I will bury you and your holster in my backyard. R.I.P.
In lieu of flowers, please send iPhone 5s accessories.
Top Photo courtesy of Blackberry