BlackBerry missed the memo.
Can’t play Angry Birds on it? Kiss that smartphone goodbye.
Besides, BlackBerrys are hardly smartphones. They’re phones that were told they were smart until they got to college and discovered they were incapable of doing basic math. They’re small fish that once dominated the pond, until it was invaded by larger, more competent fish with better features. (In this metaphor, iPhones are Asian carp.)
The BlackBerry’s parent company, RIM (Research in Motion) just shed 11 percent of its workforce.
And I can believe it.
A scant two years ago, I was overjoyed to have a BlackBerry. My friends and I would BBM late into the night. “Ooh, a free message,” we’d say. “This is like texting but better. How great this keyboard is! I feel so futuristic!”
Then iPhone guy arrived. We regarded him as something of an upstart. Sure, he had these mystical things called apps, but so did we! We could get Google Maps to load very slowly and direct us to travel miles out of our way to Ballston because the satellite was malfunctioning. We once downloaded the Yelp app, but it kept causing our BlackBerry to make strange noises and turn purple and actually sweat in frustration, so we decided to stop. And we had a keyboard, preventing us from sending embarrassing texts about midget mechanics. Surely these iPhone things were a passing fad, although they were fun for playing games and booking plane tickets. Try doing that on a BlackBerry!
“Al Gore had a BlackBerry before this iPhone was a twinkle in your eye,” we said, suddenly realizing how uncool we sounded.
Once BlackBerrys were the go-to accessory of the Washington insider. There was a customary chorus of faint clicking on the Metro as we typed Important Messages. “I’ll BBM you,” we said, getting ill-advised tattoos that read “Rollerballs For Lyfe.”
But iPhone guy infiltrated first one office, then the other. It was just so much more efficient, even if we kept mistyping things. And you could play Angry Birds!
It didn’t help that BlackBerry didn’t keep up with the times. “Apps? Who needs apps?” RIM asked. “This phone caters to people who want small screens, limited functionality and a keyboard! There will never be any technology more gripping than a keyboard!” Then Android came along and we were — up a creek.
Having a BlackBerry is something like having a pager. Once it showed that you were a first-adopter. Now it indicates that you’re something of a stegosaurus. We’re trapped on the wrong part of the S-curve.
I don’t have Internet in my home, and trying to use a BlackBerry to find the Internet has made me almost painfully aware of the device’s limitations. It takes a fairly terrible device for you to complain that “I can’t really enjoy YouTube videos, given the limitations of the screen.” YouTube videos are designed to be watched on maybe a three-inch diameter screen with limited contrast, given that they are about as subtle and nuanced as a Mel Gibson diatribe.
Frankly, the BlackBerry is not designed for web-surfing or app-using. Sure, you can download apps, but they have all the delightful functionality of getting your hand caught in an icemaker. And it has the delightful bonus characteristic of falling instantly to pieces whenever you drop it but reassembling fairly quickly, having forgotten all your contacts. Some would call it a piece of — but let’s not get carried away.
It’s gotten so bad that I’ve started pretending that I have an iPhone for social reasons. “It’s one of the new red iPhones,” I say. “It has a keyboard.”
With news of the layoffs, here’s yet another once ubiquitous technology that’s going the way of the dodo. Even the dodo once was hip and cutting edge.
“This dodo is a fabulous, fearless Mauritian bird!” we once said. “All the insiders have them!”
“Can it fly?”
“No.” We swallowed nervously. “But I think Al Gore has one.”
So long, BlackBerry.