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.

The views expressed here are solely those of the author and do not reflect the beliefs of Digital Trends.


Car-branded phones need to make a U-turn if they ever want to impress

Your car and your smartphone are becoming one, yet smartphones branded or co-created by car companies are a problem. We look at the history, some examples of the best and worst, then share hopes for the future.
Home Theater

The best movies on Netflix in December, from 'Buster Scruggs’ to endangered cats

Save yourself from hours wasted scrolling through Netflix's massive library by checking out our picks for the streamer's best movies available right now, whether you're into explosive action, witty humor, or anything else.
Home Theater

These top-line smart speakers conduct the most sophisticated symphony: Your life

Stuck talking to yourself? Get an A.I. assistant to keep you company! Whether you put your stock in Alexa, Google Assistant, or Siri, we've picked out the best smart speaker for any smart home ecosystem.

Smartphone makers are vomiting a torrent of new phones, and we’re sick of it

Smartphone manufacturers like Huawei, LG, Sony, and Motorola are releasing far too many similar phones. The update cycle has accelerated, but more choice is not always a good thing.

Do we even need 5G at all?

Faster phones, easier access to on-demand video, simpler networking -- on the surface, 5G sounds like a dream. So why is it more of a nightmare?

Razer’s most basic Blade 15 is the one most gamers should buy

Razer's Blade 15 is an awesome laptop for both gamers, streamers, professionals, and anyone else needing serious go in a slim profile, but its price is out of reach for many games. The new Blade 15 Base solves that problem with few…
Home Theater

The Apple AirPods 2 needed to come out today. Here are four reasons why

Apple announced numerous new products at its October 30 event, a lineup that included a new iPad Pro, a MacBook Air, as well as a new Mac Mini. Here are four reasons we wish a new set of AirPods were on that list.

Going to hell, again. The Switch makes 'Diablo 3' feel brand-new

I've played every version of Diablo 3 released since 2012, racking up hundreds of hours in the process. Six years later, I'm playing it yet again on Nintendo Switch. Somehow, it still feels fresh.

‘Fallout 76’ may have online multiplayer but it’s still a desolate wasteland

"Is Fallout 76 an MMO?" That depends on who you ask. Critics and players often cite its online multiplayer capabilities as a reason it qualifies. Yet calling the game an MMO only confuses matters, and takes away from what could make…
Digital Trends Live

Microsoft has #*!@ed up to-do lists on an epic scale

Microsoft has mucked up to-do lists on a scale you simply can’t imagine, a failure that spans multiple products and teams, like a lil’ bit of salmonella that contaminates the entire output from a factory.

As Amazon turns up the volume on streaming, Spotify should shudder

Multiple players are all looking to capitalize on the popularity of streaming, but it has thus far proved nearly impossible to make a profit. Could major tech companies like Amazon be primed for a streaming take-over?

Throw out the sandbox. ‘Red Dead Redemption 2’ is a fully realized western world

Despite featuring around 100 story missions, the real destination in Red Dead Redemption 2 is the journey you make for yourself in the Rockstar's open world, and the game is better for it.

‘Diablo Immortal’ is just the beginning. Mobile games are the future

Diablo fans were furious about Diablo Immortal, but in truth, mobile games are the future. From Apple and Samsung to Bethesda and Blizzard, we’re seeing a new incentive for games that fit on your phone.
Movies & TV

He created comics, movies, and superheroes. But Stan Lee lived for joy

Stan Lee was a creator, a celebrity, an icon, and beneath it all, a real-life good guy with all the same human qualities that made his superheroes so relatable. And his greatest joy was sharing his creations with the world.