The first step to recovery is acceptance and finally, official Washington is ready to come to grips with reality: It's addicted to the BlackBerry.
It's no secret that the District of Columbia is America's last holdout for the cumbersome smartphones. As iPhones and Droids flood cities across the country, Washington's stubborn devotion to the silly plastic keyboard and tiny rollerball thing has never been more embarrassing. But finally, the tone has shifted from proud defiance to sulking acceptance.
In today's Washington Post, Cecilia Kang reports that 500,000 federal workers, including President Obama and his staff, are still fiddling around with those retrograde devices. What's different from Kang's report about the BlackBerry's reign and a similar story Roll Call published in November is the state of embarrassment from the BlackBerry holdouts.
In 2012, Washingtonians are finally getting it:
“Everyone used to have a BlackBerry in town, but I need more than just e-mail,” [Christina] Cox said about her BlackBerry.
And 29-year-old Lindsey Bowen, whose "iPhone- and Android-obsessed friends mock her device":
Seen as outdated and uncool, it's become the Washington worker’s fashion equivalent of a hard-shell Samsonite briefcase. “Tell us again, how many apps do you have on that thing?” they tease.
And don't forget 44-year-old Paul Silder, a government contractor, "who says he feels stuck with the BackBerry":
The 44-year-old father of two is left longing for an iPhone or an Android that he can proudly tuck into the holster on his left hip.
“I want a bigger screen. I only really use it for work, but it would be nice to surf the Web more easily,” Silder sighs.
Now that's appropriate self-disdain. But compare that to the BlackBerry holdouts from just five months ago and you'll notice how much the District used to be in denial.
Here we have Scott Rodman, the director of information technology for Sen. Harry Reid, talking to Roll Call's Kate Tummarello:
“Even today many staff prefer the tactile keyboard over the ‘soft’ keyboard,” he said in an email.
Then there's Brad Fitch, president and CEO of Congressional Management Foundation, which, ahem, received past funding from BlackBerry-maker RIM.
[Fitch] recounted hearing staffers express their displeasure with the iPhone’s time lag in receiving Congressional email: “They didn’t seem satisfied and felt that it is not meeting their needs.”
“When it comes to technology, people are creatures of habit,” Yarmosh said in an email. “On Capitol Hill, that’s even more true.
Being a creature of habit is one thing. But continuing to use BlackBerries as sales of the device plummet everywhere else is something else altogether. So congratulations Washington. A half million of you are still addicted to the BlackBerry but at least you're ready for recovery.