I’ve been an early adapter of technology since my childhood. As I grew older, I saw the opportunities and power of technology, and helped test things like AM Stereo in the early 1980′s and the first portable cell phone a couple years later. And my computer experience goes back to the infamous TI-99/4A, which featured the high tech concept of loading programs onto the machine using a cassette tape recorder and communication at the blazing rate of 300 baud.
So, yes, I am a geek.
Fast forward to the early part of this century, and I had been through portable cell phones of all sizes, half a dozen “laptop” computers, very early Internet use, with my first time on the Interwebz being in 1993, and exposure to LOTS of technology, some good, most bad. Then I discovered BlackBerry when I was able to wrangle my company into getting me one of these beasts, an early model that sort of moved data around, but was completely unusable as a phone, so I carried the Blackberry on my belt and the cutting edge PCS phone on the other side of my pants. I was livin’ the dream because I could get my e mail everywhere and make my family crazy by being “connected” at all times. But I saw the future and it was inspiring, the concept of having all your communications in your hand, little need for a 20 pound computer, and constant contact was GOOD, maybe even GREAT.
Over the next few years, I quickly changed and upgraded devices, getting a “world phone” that would let me call from anywhere on the planet in exchange for letting a service provider’s daughter join me backstage to meet a Rock Star. Hey, a guy’s gotta do what a guy’s gotta do. This was the first BlackBerry decent enough to use as a phone in addition to for e mail, so I retired the trusty flip phone and went to a pure BlackBerry experience. I felt like Martin FREAKING Cooper (click the link if you don’t know who that is) now.
Then, for the first and only time, I dropped the BlackBerry and it self destructed. I had heard that a new touch screen phone was coming, so I used a cheapo model until the way cool phone without a keyboard and a big screen was supposed to come out.
Then it did. The original Blackberry Storm in late 2008. Was it perfect? FAR from it, but it was a BLACKBERRY that had a touchscreen, like the then groundbreaking iPhone AND my Corporate IT department would let me hook it up to our e mail system. Side note: I hear that that same brilliant Corporate IT group (who I no longer work for) just let people connect iPhones to email about 3 weeks ago.
This was not a good phone. It had more issues than the Library Of Congress, I went through four of them in a year because they continued to have software and hardware failures, but it DID have a big screen and let me, a visually impaired person, make things really big on the screen.
I got real tight with my service provider and the well meaning but not very helpful people at Research In Motion in Canada in “The Year Of The Storm” and had the second generation of the phone, the BlackBerry Storm 2 in my hands the day it came out. If you follow my antics on the Interwebz, you probably know how that went. Software issues, equipment issues, and a total of SIX devices in a little over a year of use. This was a better phone than the Storm, but it too had issues and never really satisfied me, but I was forced to stay with BlackBerry because of Corporate IT.
While I was spending far too much time on dealing with my BlackBerry Storm 2, the mobile world was changing in a big way. Not only was the iPhone on its fourth version, but the Android platform was taking off in a big way. Both of those systems offered better hardware, thousands of helpful (and some fun) applications to make the mobile experience more rich, and they just plain worked better than my BlackBerry. It seems that the company was too interested in working on the new genre of Tablet Computers and had lost interest in developing an evolutionary device to replace the Storm 2.
A month or so ago, BlackBerry had their annual “here’s all the kewl new stuff we want to sell you” conference, and the rumored upgrade to the Storm 2, the Monaco or Monza, wasn’t part of the hoopla. No idea on when or if it was coming, how much it would cost, or how much better it might be than other phones on the market.
That was the last straw. I couldn’t deal with the continuing problems with my Storm 2, and now the touchscreen was beginning to fail and the phone is out of warranty. That means, even with “insurance” on the phone, it would cost me money to replace my phone with a reconditioned (that’s code for USED AND REPAIRED) obsolomodel, reload all the software, and pray the replacement used phone worked until BlackBerry decided to drop the new model. REALLY? I don’t think so.
I really like the carrier I’ve been with for years, Verizon Wireless, and I could pick a phone on any platform from them. But I’m in Kansas City now, the headquarters of Sprint and my office sits in the shadow of a Sprint 4G tower. I have no issues with Verizon Wireless, my decision on what to do was based on hardware and operating systems. I spoke with Verizon, told them what I was thinking, and they made me a very fair offer to stay and get a much better device. But Sprint made me an offer I couldn’t refuse, partially due to the fact that it seems like half of Kansas City works for Sprint and can offer incentives to switch service.
So I spent the requisite amount of time researching devices on Sprint and finally settled on the Samsung Nexus S, which is technically a Google phone because it comes without the basic Android features and apps and none of the carrier-provided “bloatware” that I’d probably never use and would pretty much immediately delete. The phone is using the latest Android software, has a huge (but not the largest) screen so I can see things better, and should run really fast while in the Kansas City area or with the family in St. Louis since Sprint has done a fine job of providing 4G coverage here in the Heartland.
I’m going to miss being a BlackBerry “Power User” and the great service, both technical and customer service from Verizon Wireless. But the bottom line is that BlackBerry isn’t keeping up with the times, either in hardware or software. I have an itch as a geek to have access to the latest and greatest, and a need as a business person to have the best tools to use when doing my job.
Will I love my new phone? I hope so, but I know its a new device and a new user experience because it ISN’T the “BlackBerry World” I’ve been in for so long. Will I be satisfied with my new carrier? G-d I hope so. My wife has had Sprint service for over 11 years and its worked well for her. I’ve had a couple of not so small bumps in the road in dealing with Sprint’s offshore CSR’s, but I found an Angel within the company (whose name I won’t use to protect her privacy) who has made the transition nearly painless.
UPS tells me my phone is going on a truck tonight and will be in my office tomorrow. Give me a few days to see how it works. Hopefully, my Twitter Feed will be butterflies and rainbows, and not the ravings of a frustrated person who made a bad decision.
By the way, if you’re an Android user and have any tips for me, feel free to send them along to firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d be much obliged.
- Opinion: The end of BlackBerry (macworld.com)