After the iPhone and Android become the pocket computers of the masses, BlackBerries aren't cool any more, and The New York Times is on it. With one thousand words of truth-seeking journalism, the paper of record reports that large numbers of BlackBerry users are suffering from shame and regret for sticking with the device. Thumb keyboard or no thumb keyboard, most of them complain about the BlackBerry's lack of functionality compared to the newer, shinier, trendier iPhones and Androids. Some seem downright distraught.
"I want to take a bat to it," said one BlackBerry user who was testing her phone's Internet browsing capabilities. It tried to load for about 30 seconds, and then the battery died. "You can't do anything with it. You're supposed to, but it's all a big lie." She told The Times that she'd stopped taking her BlackBerry out at parties and hides it behind iPad whenever possible. "I'm ashamed of it," she said.
Others sound more desperate. "I feel absolutely helpless," said another poor BlackBerry owner. "You're constantly watching people do all these things on their phones and all I have going for me is my family's group BBM chats." One apparently non-BlackBerry person got snarky along these lines. "BlackBerry users are like Myspace users," he said. "They probably still chat on AOL Instant Messenger."
Before we proceed, let's just take a second and say that AIM is more useful than you think. (How else are you supposed to keep up with your middle school friends?) But back to the point, it's hardly a mystery that BlackBerry's been suffering from the unpopular bug. In the last three years, the company's market share has declined from 50 percent to just 5 percent, as Apple and Android have taken over. It's not like they haven't tried. BlackBerry's parent company Research in Motion comes out with new devices and software upgrades and whatnot all the time, but nobody seems to care.
We've been following this story with interest, and the series of headlines that BlackBerry news has produced in the past few months are depressing to be sure. For example, "Things Look Very Dire at RIM" covered a batch of bad news in May. "BlackBerry Maker Continues to Deteriorate" was the top for our story on the company laying off 6,000 employees in June. By July, we got really direct with "BlackBerry Is Doing Everything Backwards." When a company's struggling to keep employees in a job, there tends to be a good chance that something's holding their customers back. According to The Times's assessment, that something is an unwelcome does of "shame and public humiliation as they watch their counterparts mingle on social networking apps that are not available to them, take higher-resolution photos, and effortlessly navigate streets -- and the Internet -- with better GPS and faster browsing. "
In more positive RIM news, new research shows that BlackBerry's are some of the most ethically built smartphones on the market. Not the horrible conditions at Apple manufacturing plants are really keeping people from waiting hours in line and throwing down a few hundred bucks for an iPhone. That's apparently cool these days.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.