Here’s a short quiz. Name the 2012 equivalent of the Sony Walkman after the iPod was first introduced. Or video cassette tapes and VCRs after DVDs and DVRs came on the scene.
The thing is, I have been an enthusiastic and loyal BlackBerry user since the late 90s. Some might say that I am addicted to my BlackBerry, or what is sometimes referred to as a “crackberry.” And as a long time BlackBerry fan, I find this whole situation to be quite disconcerting.
Before Research in Motion (RIM) introduced the BlackBerry device, people had to use their personal computers to get e-mail. Many of us business-types, particularly the road warriors among us, had laptops, cell phones, and pagers to ensure we were “in-touch” 24x7.
Then RIM launched a new technology that meshed perfectly with secure corporate e-mail networks, primarily Microsoft Exchange. Soon, the ability to receive and send e-mails anywhere at any time became a business requirement. A few years after the BlackBerry, initially just a hand-held e-mail device, was introduced, RIM added cell phone capabilities.
Up until that point, I walked around with three different devices, a cell phone, my e-mail-only BlackBerry, and a pager, attached to my belt, earning me the nickname “Inspector Gadget.” This new combo Blackberry enabled me to merge everything into a single device. It was nothing short of brilliant.
It was so brilliant, in fact, that at one point, just about every business professional had one and BlackBerry literally ruled the nascent smartphone market. Then Apple introduced its iPhone in 2007 and it was a game-changer.
The iPhone had this magical touch screen where you could re-size the image with a pinch of your fingers. It had a virtual, rather than a physical, keypad. It had fast, easy web browsing. And it had apps. You could not only get your e-mails, make phone calls, and send text messages, you could access the internet, play games, and run all manner of cool apps. People gobbled the iPhone up.
RIM, in a feeble response to the iPhone, introduced its own touch screen phone, the BlackBerry Storm. It was billed as RIM’s iPhone-killer. But it wasn’t even close. Sure, it could do most of what the iPhone could do, but not nearly as well. And cool apps? Fugheddaboudit.
Like just about everyone else, I coveted the iPhone. But back in 2008, AT&T was the only service provider offering the iPhone, and based upon my past experience with AT&T and its predecessor, Cingular Wireless, I would rather have sat myself down in the middle of the Mass Pike at rush hour than sign a two-year commitment with AT&T.
Shortly after Apple launched the iPhone, Google introduced its own mobile phone OS, Android, which could run on a variety of devices from different manufacturers. Android phones could essentially do everything the iPhone could do. And Android also had tons of apps...almost as many as for the iPhone. Verizon, my preferred service provider, jumped into the Android market with full force.
So when my two-year commitment to the BlackBerry 8830 “World Edition” was up in November 2008, I considered the newly released “Droid” from Motorola, but as a long-time and loyal BlackBerry user, I opted, instead, for the Storm 2, the upgraded device that was supposed to have addressed most of the many deficiencies of RIM’s original Storm.
The Storm 2 wasn’t awful, but suffice it to say that I couldn’t wait to get rid of it when my two-year bondage to that device ended. I traded my Storm 2 for a more traditional BlackBerry Bold. No touch screen, a lousy internet browser, and relatively few apps. But I loved the physical keypad. And despite all of RIM’s missteps and false starts, as recently as 2010, the BlackBerry laid claim to a 48% market share in the US smartphone marketplace.
Fast forward to 2012
Yet some die-hard BlackBerry devotees, including me, have been holding off making that switch. We are waiting until later this year, when RIM will be launching new devices that take advantage of its promising new operating system, BlackBerry OS 10. This will surely get BlackBerry back in the game.
Oh wait, RIM just announced that these new devices running under OS 10 won’t be rolled out until 2013. Yet even before that news hit the streets, by the end of the first quarter of 2012, BlackBerry’s US market share had fallen to below 4%. So sad.
My wife has an iPhone. My daughter has an iPhone. Almost everyone I know has an iPhone and they all love their iPhones. My company now supports iPhones as well as BlackBerrys. Sadly, with RIM’s numerous missteps and poor decisions, even I have been pushed over the edge. I'm looking into the earliest date when I, too, will be throwing in the towel and making the move to an iPhone.
Sorry BlackBerry, but at some point even an old fart like me has to admit that the time has come to stop buying records and start downloading music from iTunes.