Skip to main content

Don’t be fooled by nostalgia: Running back to BlackBerry is still a mistake

blackberry passport coming week 600 without contract
If you want to live dangerously, go ahead and climb an unfeasibly tall cliff without a safety line while wearing completely unsuitable footwear. Just don’t, whatever you do, swap your iPhone for a BlackBerry. Normally, I wouldn’t feel the need to say this, because really, there can’t be many of you still considering it. (Especially after our warning.) But lately, there are a few misguided souls saying it’s a good idea.

This guy, for example, talks about giving up his iPhone and returning to BlackBerry’s welcoming bosom. How fun. While he’s at it, he should trade in his car and get himself a nice horse, because technologically speaking, it amounts to the same thing. They’ll both do the same job, more or less, but no horse is equipped with ABS, sat nav, airbags, or luxury items like a roof. This means it’ll bloody well hurt when you fall off, which will happen a lot, and you best get used to turning up at places looking like you’ve just taken a quick dip in the nearest pool.

What’s particularly striking about the article, written by James West for, is although the author strongly encourages the reader to get a BlackBerry phone, it’s clear he hasn’t actually taken the plunge. Instead, his talk of BlackBerry is a rose-tinted look back at simpler times, when phones had physical keyboards and the streets were covered in manure. He refers to the iPhone as a toy, and the BlackBerry as a tool, which incidentally, is exactly what you’ll be if you follow his advice.

Venom, bilge, and the BlackBerry Passport

Some of BlackBerry’s Internet support may just be a sly attempt to pump up BlackBerry’s almost subterranean stock price, by someone who’s in it up to their neck. It’s a good point, but that only makes it even more irresponsible. I recently had a conversation with someone who was forced to use a BlackBerry Bold by his company. He used several expletives to describe how much he despised it, and had a tone so venomous you’d have thought the device had slept with his sister, mother, and father — then hadn’t called any of them back.

Who is BlackBerry actually targeting? It’s certainly not going to attract rational human beings.

Everyone loves an underdog though, and in the last few weeks, BlackBerry has tried hard to be noticed. There’s a vague plan to go back to its business roots and attract the go-getting professional strapped with cash. But it’s still not ready to give up on those under 35 either. The company is excited about two things: the Passport smartphone, and BlackBerry Assistant, and it wants us to get all weak at the knees about them.

The Passport has been partially revealed, and to prove how excited dozens of people are about it, this blog post was published, filled with forum entries from anonymous, tech-savvy users about how they can’t wait to get back to BlackBerry, and the Passport was the device for them.

What absolute bilge. Forgive me, but how “Felix (Not Registered)” and his cohorts feel about it is of no consequence to anyone, least of all the gangs of dreary salesmen BlackBerry’s targeting. Worse still, BlackBerry is doing something journalists often get called out for: Speculating on the possible success or failure of an unreleased, untested product. The difference is, BlackBerry’s viewpoint could hardly be called impartial.

Siri and Cortana, meet Steve

Then we’ve got BlackBerry Assistant, winner of this year’s blandest name competition. The Assistant is like Siri and Cortana, just lacking a funky, catchy name. It needs one which befits BlackBerry’s image, and won’t make middle managers feel too awkward when they use the voice controls, even the ones who wear colorful ties. We think Steve would be an excellent choice.

Life with Steve sounds pant-wettingly exciting. You can turn on the flashlight and, gasp, turn it off again. It’ll check on the Internet to see if your meal-for-one has gluten in it, remind you about upcoming whiteboard sessions, and presumably, talk you out of killing yourself before the next one starts. That’s for business users, but what about those who haven’t lost the will to live? They can see what’s trending on Twitter, and ensure their mom always has the lyrics to Soft Kitty when it’s time for bed. Yes, BlackBerry thinks that geek culture is old episodes of The Big Bang Theory. No wonder it’s in trouble.

blackberry passport voice assistantAmusingly, BlackBerry has taken the time to put just two of Steve’s best features in bold typeface. The first is we’ll be “pleasantly surprised at how accurate” it is, which implies our expectations will be so low, we’ll be delirious when it’s only a little bit crappy. The second is even more exciting: It’ll be compatible with any Bluetooth device. Woah there, BlackBerry; don’t overwhelm us.

Who is BlackBerry actually targeting? It’s certainly not going to attract rational human beings, because no one in their right mind would be swept off their feet by a hands-free flashlight app.

BlackBerry’s target audience must not care about giving up things like Google Now, iOS 8, Cortana, and a massive choice of phones in all sizes and price points. They also must not care that BlackBerry itself is in a dangerously unstable financial and competitive position. Is a physical QWERTY keyboard so grand that it’s all some are praying for? Like some ancient deity still worshipped by a few weird tribes, all of whom have massive thumbs? Will these users swoop in and save the day for BlackBerry?

No. This isn’t a silly story. It’s reality. Most of us have moved on. It’s not 2008, and suggesting that anyone jump ship from iOS, Android, or even Windows Phone to BlackBerry right this minute is tantamount to cruelty.

Editors' Recommendations