It was announced on Thursday that Research in Motion, the company responsible for bestowing on the general public the once-almighty BlackBerry, is to hold up its white flag and give up competing with Apple's iPhone and the Android platform for consumer sales. Instead it is going back to its corporate roots, marketing itself once more as the signature device of the city slicker.
I, for one, am going to miss it. Having been a belaguered BlackBerry user for over two years, I have grown to love the device and its little idiosyncracies. And yes, included in those idiosyncracies are the times when it just plain didn't work. But those ugly little rectangles, with their mass of impractially tiny keys and determination not to be touch screen when all others around them were being groped left, right and centre by greasy digits, have captured my heart. Say what you like about BlackBerrys, but you'll never hear someone whining about their cracked screen (a common cry of the common or garden variety iPhone user.)
I think it was the sheer practicality of the device that first attracted me to it. BlackBerrys are overtly unsexy, the antidote to the glossy functionality of the iPhone and just about every other smartphone that copied it. It calls, it texts, it sends emails. Devastatingly, it doesn't let you play Angry Birds.
With a BlackBerry there's no time-wasting (or, come to think of it, money wasting) with apps. I have two. The first is the inherently practical Tubemap, a handheld version of the London underground map which performs the vital function of making me look like a seasoned Londoner when really I have only lived here for six months. Never will I be the subject of pitying glances as I struggle to comprehend the various branches of the Northern line on a paper map; a subtle glance at my BlackBerry will sort me right out. The second is a cornea-searing flashlight, which I only downloaded when BlackBerry decided to give all of its users a selection of apps for free after a period of extended BlackBerry Messenger downtime in October 2011.
BBM has long been saving BlackBerry's bacon. For a period this free instant messaging service functioned as the MSN messenger of the teenie generation. It even had 'PING' as an updated version of the incessantly irritating 'nudge'. Such . For me, it was a way to engage in a constant stream of private gossip alongside my daily activities through a message thread with my two sole friends who were also proud Blackberry owners.
So here's to a beautiful and flawed piece of technology, and here's hoping I can get a graduate job with a company that will supply me with a BlackBerry.
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