My girlfriend has a BlackBerry, one of my housemates has an iPhone, and another housemate has both; they've all been having a spot of bother this week. I have an Android phone and so I've rarely been more smug, which is saying something.
In case you're one of those people whose hearing can't register the frequency of the collective groan from first-world technophiles (it's like obnoxious whale song, in case you were wondering) here's the low-down:
Over the last four days, BlackBerry access to internet, e-mail and BBMs (the BlackBerry-specific messaging service) has been all but non-existent this week, with intermittent service on Tuesday. The problem started across Europe, the Middle East and Africa on Monday, and has since spread to Asia, the US and some of South America. Calls and texts do still work but even so, that's several million users shut out of a service they've paid for.
Then yesterday, the much-publicised launch of Apple's new iPhone and iPad operating system, iOS 5, was met with such huge demand that the servers were unable to cope and many users attempting to download the update encountered all sorts of complications, including the now-infamous "3200 error," and suffered interminable download times and failed downloads.
Whilst that's not a problem which properly inhibits iPhone users (as the BlackBerry outage has), not being able to upgrade to iOS 5 because Apple were unprepared for the level of demand is a little like trying to unwrap a Christmas present, only to have it snatched out of your hands every time you remove another 4 cm of wrapping paper because you have to wait for some other kid to finish unwrapping their Christmas present.
Meanwhile, the BlackBerry outage has been a mixed bag: an almighty frustration for most, but a blessing in disguise for others.
A large portion of BlackBerry owners are serious professional types who need a serious phone to be serious. It's a device which means you only ever need to be away from your desk geographically - work can come with you wherever you go!
So, for some it's been a release. There's a genuine excuse not to answer work e-mails when you're at lunch, or have gone home for the night! The incessant chirping has gone silent and a Zen-like state of calm has been achieved.
For most of those people however - freelancers, self-employed people, or those who often work away from an office etc. - it's been a severe interruption to their work. If you're waiting on e-mails then you'll need to stay next to your computer. If you're trying to coordinate anything outside an office, however, you'll need to reassess how you're going to work that.
Phone calls and text messages would probably be a good start but honestly what is this, the Stone Age?
Both companies have screwed up on an impressive scale, but with significantly different results.
Apple is a pub landlord who's run out of Guinness at 2:00pm on St. Patrick's Day but swears they're getting some more barrels in around 7, so please just stick around. They really should have seen this coming, but it's not the end of the world.
In some ways, the BlackBerry situation is #firstworldproblems fodder of the highest calibre. "I am only able to use my mobile phone for calls and texts messages" is exactly the kind of predicament that WhiteWhine.com thrives on.
Then again, for the BlackBerry users whose livelihoods are (perhaps unfortunately) intertwined with a need for constant e-mail access, this is at best a major inconvenience, and at worst a problem which will actually lose them money.
BlackBerry, or rather its manufacturers RIM, could have actually struck an iceberg. It's unlikely to sink them, but they're coming of this with a badly damaged reputation.
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