Why I got a BlackBerry

BlackBerry 8900. Photo credit: By Pizue [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

My first smartphone was an iPhone 3GS, which I bought knowingly about a month before the iPhone 4 came out. That iPhone 3GS served me well for two and a half years, including a swim in a lake, dozens of drops, and a screen replacement.  Ultimately, that abuse caught up with it, and a chocolate bar melting into the microphone finally did it in.

I am leaving the continent in a few months and a new phone without a plan discount was out of the question.  I looked at Android, but had found the platform to be at times slow and with a tendency to crash.  There are also so many phones on the platform (with similar names!) that I found it difficult to figure out which of the second-hand ones I was looking at was any good.

I thought about getting an updated iPhone.  I was used to the interface and Apple certainly makes it easier to stay with their own devices, but I’ve been turned off by some of Apple’s products forcing their choices on the user.  Using Flash should have been up to the user, not the manufacturer.  Switching to an Apple-made maps app on the newest OS was also not for the good of the user.  The iTunes interface makes it difficult to switch to another platform by making it difficult to liberate contacts and music.  I was ready for something else.

While I could say I picked Blackberry through attrition, it was actually through preference that I wanted to try the platform.  Why?

Patriotism. 

Blackberry is made by Canadian company Research in Motion (RIM), and Canada is a country with vanishingly few winning tech companies to inspire young geeks like myself.  Canada has been home to top class tech companies (Corel, Nortel, Angiotech) that all went supernova.  #1 companies can be built here, but can they continue to compete with the world?

Cheering for the underdog.

Canadians have a strong history of cheering for the underdog, so maybe this falls under patriotism.  RIM has had a tough year-plus with botched or delayed launches, a leadership change, and a stock price that values the company at only a few bucks more than the cash they have in the bank.  It would be great to see them turn things around.

Hope for the next one.

Blackberry 10 has be long hailed as what will save Blackberry, especially after the Playbook didn’t.  I’m holding hope for this, and I saw this phone has a test to get used to the Blackberry platform to see if I’d want to move to Blackberry 10 when it comes and I’d be up for a new-contract-subsidized phone.

To complete the set.

I bought a Playbook when they started selling them off at what must be near-cost, although I admit it only really sees use during travel.  While a Macbook-iPad-iPhone could be the best “package set-up”, I was hoping to see if I’d utilize my tablet more if I had a Blackberry phone.  I havet, but haven’t set up the Blackberry Bridge yet.

Security.

No, I’m not overly paranoid of the government or have items of national security in my inbox, but I do value my privacy and hope that some of ideas may one day develop into industry trade secrets.  If Blackberry’s security is enough to upset some foreign governments, I see that as a good thing.

Of course, all of these played into my decision.  I am happy with it even though setting it up as an unlocked phone was a pain, largely due to my service provider.  I find the OS stability to be better than iPhone, but the browser is slower, media player clunkier, and the maps UI isn’t as good at the old version of Apple’s. These are the major apps I use on either system. There are definately some quirks in the system (ok… bugs) and I still haven`t set up the bridge to my Playbook (after almost a month), but I`m happy with my choice. I like the physical QWERTY keyboard a lot.  Its not perfect, but I wouldn`t consider it inferior to iOS or Andriod.  I like that the system feels both secure and highly tunable, but I don’t think this tuning is intuitive or easy for most people.

This may be the heart of RIM’s problem with Blackberry: what they have built is a Hummer when most people today want a Prius. Like many, I hold hope for the Blackberry 10 to live up to its promise, and I’ll be getting one on launch day if it does.

 

Update: Just set up the Blackberry Bridge.  It is really cool! One issue I’ve noticed is message I read on the playbook don’t immedeately get marked as read on the handheld.

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