Bye Bye BlackBerry

I'm gonna miss my BlackBerry.

I’m gonna miss my BlackBerry.

We live in an age of constant and often, rapid change. Technology foists new things upon us at an ever-increasing rate. The 21st century means adapt, or become obsolete and a dinosaur.

Smartphones have changed the way that Americans access information and connect. The very first smartphone, IBM’s Simon, was rolled out in 1992. They’ve changed dramatically over that gulf of two decades.

The smartphone has arguably been the catalyst for the explosive adoption of mobile social media like Facebook, Foursquare, and even Twitter. According to Pew Internet, 40% of cell phone owners use a social networking site on their phone, and 28% do so on a typical day.  Young people, blacks, Hispanics, the highly educated and those with a higher annual household income are more likely to use SNS on their phones than other groups. Perhaps the only people that don’t know what an app is are people that might be living in caves, or at least, are among the small percentage of people without a smartphone.

Since 2008, I’ve been using a BlackBerry Curve. Both Mary and I bought ours in August that year and we’ve been using them since. About a year ago, I began to get the new phone “bug” as the internet capabilities of my 3G BlackBerry seemed increasingly slow. That and the ubiquitous advertising that accompanies each new technological breakthrough (think, T-Mobile’s 4G commercials with their “girl on motorcycle”), which is always a prime driver of the “next big thing.” It also didn’t help being someone that likes to stay current with the latest trends in social media, a lover of apps like Yelp and others, and being hindered by the app capabilities (or lack of) my aging BlackBerry. Oh, and seeing absolute social media dolts with phones far exceeding their capacity to use them was also a source of irritation.

Of course, I’ve grown comfortable with my BlackBerry. It’s nicked up and slower than molasses in January. The camera is virtually useless. My track ball is balky at times. Still, old school and all, I’ve used it to tweet, post updates on Facebook, blog, get directions (which got us across the South in 2010 on our road trip), access email, and pick restaurants.  And while I’m no social media rock star, my BlackBerry has allowed me to exceed many of my work peers in leveraging social media and other mobile tools. Keep in mind, I do work in a social media backwater like Maine. But that’s an entire post that could be written about why business leaders and for sure, nonprofit professionals here in the state, are so slow to adopt these essential tools. How many times have I heard, “what’s a blog?” Quite a bit.

My phone has been tied to a work plan of my wife’s. That’s probably why I’ve stuck with my BlackBerry this long. For a year now, I’ve been asking her, “when are we getting new phones.” Her answer has always been, “soon.” “Soon” became “June,” and then “August,” and here we nearly a year out from “soon.”

We’ve made two trips to a Verizon Wireless store. I’ve hated both visits. The first one was annoying because I didn’t have a freakin’ clue about the difference between an iPhone and an android device. Then, after brushing up on my smartphone speak, the second visit was just as bad because we had an annoying salesperson, and the South Portland store, with its blaring music, made me want to get the hell out of Dodge, rather than purchase a new phone; which is what we did.

I’m now ready to part with my trusty BlackBerry. I’ll go through the same period of angst and frustration with my new phone (coming next weekend) that I did with my BlackBerry. That’s how I am with new things. Then, I’ll have it down and wonder why I waited this long to upgrade.

Personally, I’d like to hold out for the new BlackBerry Z10. I’ve read some great stuff, love the BlackBerry keyboards, and while I detest touch screens, my previous experience tells me that theirs will probably be better. That’s not going to happen because I’ve had it with delays and waiting. The JBE struggles with patience.

Next Sunday, I’ll have a faster phone, with a host of new features that I won’t know how to use. I’ll be experiencing buyer’s remorse and jonesing for my old school BlackBerry. But I’ll move on because in the 21st century you no longer have a choice.

Simon, the first smartphone, by IBM.

Simon, the first smartphone, by IBM.