AfterThought: Hating to love the BlackBerry

17 Comments

After a strong debut last week, it’s nice to see our pal L.M. Lloyd back in the saddles with his second edition of AfterThought. This week, L.M. gives a rundown as to why he hates to love the device we all love… to love. Another strong showing. Thank you, sir.

Ah, CES! All the new gizmos gathered together. A million seductive whispers promising you everything you could ever dream of, sometime in the next two fiscal quarters. CES always reminds me why I hate the BlackBerry, but also reminds me why it is the device permanently attached to my hip.

72517965.jpgAt CES you see all the dreams of what a mobile device could be. GPS, 3G, Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, Wi-Max, VoIP, desktop-class processors, amazing displays, voice recognition, millions of desktop-grade applications available, DVD quality video, CD quality audio, video conferencing, gigabytes on gigabytes of storage, expandable, programmable, easy to use devices that can get your mail from anywhere instantly, browse the web effortlessly, and still fit in your pocket!

It is a dream that makes the BlackBerry look like a drab piece of plastic, sitting uselessly in my pocket. It sounds wonderful, and I want to know where I can buy the dream soon as possible!

56676834.jpgOf course then the drab reality sets in. How much will it cost? How long will the battery last? Will the device get too hot to touch while I’m using it? Can I see the screen outside on a sunny day? Will this work with my service provider? How is the reception? How much more will the additional service cost? Does it come in any other color? Will it work with my existing headset? On, and on, and on, until all the magic has been banished, and all you are left with is a pile of moribund compromises.

The device that does everything you could ever want, for two hours and then the battery dies. The device that lasts all day, and looks really exciting, but crashed three times in the ten minutes they were demonstrating it. The device that is everything you had hoped for, but costs $3000. And that, my friends, is exactly where the BlackBerry comes into its own, as the king of the boring compromise *sigh*.

You see, I’ve been using handheld gadgets practically as long as I can remember. Dating all the way back to the days of odd Japanese clamshell electronic organizers, I have always had some little bit of portable computing I had to take everywhere with me. I have been a sucker for more devices than I can even keep track of, and every time I have hoped that this would be the one that would deliver on all the seductive whispers of a perfect mobile device.

55996641.jpgUnfortunately, they never do. Some have gotten close, but there is always something ‘wrong’ with them. Something that overshadows all those great features, and makes the device an unbearable pain to carry around. The BlackBerry has more ‘wrong’ with it than most devices I have ever carried, yet it is the only device I have returned to after trying other alternatives. It is a device that there is very little to get excited about, a lot to be disappointed about, but there is very little to actually hate. It is almost the definition of safe and boring.

  • squished18

    Dare we say that RIM is the Toyota of the mobile communications industry? Great post!

  • squished18

    Dare we say that RIM is the Toyota of the mobile communications industry? Great post!

  • Thought

    Lloyd: what a great read and a great insight!

    How true…and isn’t that the way things are in life…that when a technology becomes mature enough to really work well, then usually it is not at the cutting edge any longer, and enough people are familiar with it, and therefore is kind of perceived as boring or less exciting?

    How many technologies of today are considered boring, but some time ago would have been considered ultra cool and exciting?

    Consider the cordless phone I have…I remember a time not too long ago when cordless phones were considered to be very cutting edge. Now the one I have works far better than those early models at a fraction of the price, yet it is considered commonplace and boring. If one really wants to extrapolate, consider household appliances, indoor plumbing, books,etc…there were times when these technologies were the attention getters.

    So to quote from the great Talking Heads…”same as it ever was…”

  • Thought

    Lloyd: what a great read and a great insight!

    How true…and isn’t that the way things are in life…that when a technology becomes mature enough to really work well, then usually it is not at the cutting edge any longer, and enough people are familiar with it, and therefore is kind of perceived as boring or less exciting?

    How many technologies of today are considered boring, but some time ago would have been considered ultra cool and exciting?

    Consider the cordless phone I have…I remember a time not too long ago when cordless phones were considered to be very cutting edge. Now the one I have works far better than those early models at a fraction of the price, yet it is considered commonplace and boring. If one really wants to extrapolate, consider household appliances, indoor plumbing, books,etc…there were times when these technologies were the attention getters.

    So to quote from the great Talking Heads…”same as it ever was…”

  • George

    Hey just wanted to mention to you and Thought to keep up the good work.

    I really like these Thought and AfterThought columns.

  • George

    Hey just wanted to mention to you and Thought to keep up the good work.

    I really like these Thought and AfterThought columns.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Well, thank you very much everyone. I appreciate the complements. I’ll try to keep it up. It shouldn’t be hard, I always have a rant about something.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Well, thank you very much everyone. I appreciate the complements. I’ll try to keep it up. It shouldn’t be hard, I always have a rant about something.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh and Thought; you are a Talking Heads fan too? I knew I liked you for some reason, even if you are an Apple fan.

  • L. M. Lloyd

    Oh and Thought; you are a Talking Heads fan too? I knew I liked you for some reason, even if you are an Apple fan.

  • Luqman

    LM,
    Lay off the mind reading. Reading your byline was like hearing my own thoughts about why I have this love/hate thing with my blackberry. Even worse, I keep upgrading, hoping rim will one day get it right.
    Non-crippled bluetooth – its a security risk, Integrated GPS – missing (except on sprint)! 3G – nonexistent, html email – keep dreaming, edit a document – buy windows mobile, play a video on a website – HA! You couldn’t get a good browser till Opera came out with theirs. Hell, you can’t even edit a forwarded email and cut out the bits you don’t want anyone to see. One day RIM! One day you will give me the phone I crave and I will be finally happy & proud to be a blackberry owner.

  • Luqman

    LM,
    Lay off the mind reading. Reading your byline was like hearing my own thoughts about why I have this love/hate thing with my blackberry. Even worse, I keep upgrading, hoping rim will one day get it right.
    Non-crippled bluetooth – its a security risk, Integrated GPS – missing (except on sprint)! 3G – nonexistent, html email – keep dreaming, edit a document – buy windows mobile, play a video on a website – HA! You couldn’t get a good browser till Opera came out with theirs. Hell, you can’t even edit a forwarded email and cut out the bits you don’t want anyone to see. One day RIM! One day you will give me the phone I crave and I will be finally happy & proud to be a blackberry owner.

  • Thought

    Lloyd: heck yeah I’m a big fan of the Talking Heads! My favorite album of theirs: Remain in Light.

    BTW, the Talking Heads sound great on an iPod! :)

    Oh yeah…about writing for BBCool…you know what they say: “this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around…”

  • Thought

    Lloyd: heck yeah I’m a big fan of the Talking Heads! My favorite album of theirs: Remain in Light.

    BTW, the Talking Heads sound great on an iPod! :)

    Oh yeah…about writing for BBCool…you know what they say: “this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around…”

  • Thought

    Lloyd: heck yeah I’m a big fan of the Talking Heads! My favorite album of theirs: Remain in Light.

    BTW, the Talking Heads sound great on an iPod! :)

    Oh yeah…about writing for BBCool…you know what they say: “this ain’t no party, this ain’t no disco, this ain’t no foolin’ around…”

  • L. M. Lloyd

    I’m more of a Songs About Buildings and Food guy Thought. And haven’t you figured out yet that nothing sounds very good on an iPod?

  • L. M. Lloyd

    I’m more of a Songs About Buildings and Food guy Thought. And haven’t you figured out yet that nothing sounds very good on an iPod?