The BlackBerry was once a proudly brandished icon of success, carried everywhere by the high-powered and the elite. Now, users of the device are often subjects of laughter and derision. Oh, how the mighty have fallen!
Rachel Crosby speaks about her BlackBerry phone the way someone might speak of an embarrassing relative.
“I’m ashamed of it,” said Ms. Crosby, a Los Angeles sales representative who said she had stopped pulling out her BlackBerry at cocktail parties and conferences. In meetings, she says she hides her BlackBerry beneath her iPad for fear clients will see it and judge her.
Research in Motion may still be selling their beleaguered device in India and Indonesia, but in the U.S. the company is clinging to a market share that amounts to less then 5%. Down from 50% share just three years ago. RIM recorded a net loss of $753 million in the first half of this year, compared to a profit of over $1 billion just a year earlier.
How do the BlackBerry users who are still hanging in there feel?
“I want to take a bat to it,” Ms. Crosby said. “You can’t do anything with it. You’re supposed to, but it’s all a big lie.”
Victoria Gossage, asked a country club concierge for a phone charger. “First he said, ‘Sure.’ Then he saw my phone and — in this disgusted tone — said, ‘Oh no, no, not for that.’ ”
“You get used to that kind of rejection,” she said.
Even the White House, which had long used the BlackBerry for matters of national security recently started supporting iOS devices. (This was perhaps influenced by the current occupant of the building, who holds onto his iPad like Charlton Heston held onto his guns.)
“BlackBerry users are like Myspace users,” sneers Los Angeles musician Craig Robert Smith. “They probably still chat on AOL Instant Messenger.” (And whatever happened to AOL?)
BlackBerry outcasts increasingly find themselves requesting others to complete tasks for them. Navigation, travel bookings, restaurant reservations, these are all better handled by iOS, Android, or hell, even Windows phones.
Shannon Hutto, wife of a BlackBerry says with a sigh: “Anytime we go anywhere, I always have to pull up the map. If we’re searching for a restaurant, I pull up the Yelp app. If we need a reservation, I pull up OpenTable. I kind of feel like his personal assistant.”
Some users continue to hang onto their antiquated devices. “I use my BlackBerry by choice,” says one user. “I can’t type e-mails on touch-screen phones.”
Mr. Fenton said he could not wrap his head around iPhone fever. “I constantly ask people, ‘What is so great about it?’ and they have these nonsensical answers,” he said.
Will BlackBerry hang in there and continue to get people to use their once hip, but now hopeless devices? Could be. Hey, there are still a few people who continue to buy music on CDs. So, anything is possible.