Do you speak Blackberry?
WELCOME TO A BLACKBERRY NATION!
Going no where slowly, but its alright…
I am sitting in a taxi, along with 3 other girls and a guy, and a directionless driver. The 5 of us are headed to the township to teach debating to learners in Khayalitsha as part of an outreach programme, but the organisational committee of our group had not given the driver directions.
The taxi driver has no idea how to get to the high school we are meant to be teaching at and the rest of us who lead very sheltered lives have no sense of direction in a rural context. The only guy in the car whips out a Blackberry Curve cellphone and gets Google maps to give us a hand and an arrow to set us on our way.
Now we have to let the organisers know that we have found salvation in a BB, but no one has their numbers. Sigh. Luckily the man of the day has one of the organiser’s BBM contact (the girls in the taxi asked no questions about this spurt of luck). He sends her an extremely instant message and we are off to not get lost in Khayalistha. Looking out of the window I find myself wondering, what would we have done without a Blackberry?
Whose Blackberry? Never met him before…
Blackberry has been around for years, but the now affordable phone has spirited phone users away to a world of constant beeps; the beeps of BBM. Listening to local talent Liquid Deep’s track BBM has led me to the conclusion that technology has once again invaded our social space and the spin off effects created a BB nation. BB launched a campaign “Do you speak blackberry?” to introduce BBM to the world and since then people cannot seem to get enough of it. The annoying beep and vibration of a BB notifying the owner of a Facebook update started off as an irritation, but has now become a customary occurrence in everyone’s life.
19 year old dancer and student Jody Sissing made me aware of the worth of BIS – Blackberry Internet Services adding that he links all his e-mails to his phone as well as Facebook and Twitter, because BB’s are the best way to do social networking. With Blackberry phones bought on contract for a R100 per month who wouldn’t want a slice of that pie? Below is a video on BB addiction…ITS REAL GUYS!
Why is it so darn popular?
Many attribute Blackberry’s popularity to its efficient and convenient uses. Blackberry Messaging – BBM has provided a free alternative to regular smsing. Blackberry owners can now invite each other via a BBM pin and chat for free only with other BB users. It is a lot like Mxit except users do not have to be online to receive messages.
Dale Johnson a 22 year old music producer for his company DirtyFunk does most of his fan-base communication on his Blackberry via Facebook and the internet saying that it’s great as a business phone. “I’ve got e-mail on the go. I can upload and download attachments within minutes.” Dale has admitted to being bit by the BB bug and cannot survive an hour without his smart phone. Even micro-bloggers can now update blog posts while they are at a cafe or at the library, where ever and whenever they choose to.
Whats haAPPening in the Blackberry world today ?
AppWorld is a playground for Blackberry users from which all sorts of applications can be downloaded. A huge part of BB’s success is because of the broad availability of apps. Applications range from maps, games, news feeds, eBay, music players, TiVo, Google Quick Search, links to video clips, podcasts and many others.
After doing a quick search on Google for bizarre BB apps I came across a Premium Fake My Call Blackberry app. The application creates a fake call with an accurate default call and conversation screen for your phone model, it lets you select a ringtone and a key on your phone to set off the fake call. You can even playback an audio file as if it were the caller on the other end of the line. Fake My Call was created by Origin8 Technologies for getting out of uncomfortable situations so if the constant checking up on your BB’s screen for messages has not put your date off, this app will do the job. Jim Balsillie, the co-CEO of Research in Motion (RIM) Blackberry’s manufacturing company said at the Web 2.0 Summit that phone applications are a fad that will fade.
Survivor – Blackberry addition
In my research about Blackberrys I asked a common question: can you survive a day without your Blackberry? The majority answered with an over enthusiastic no and look of horror that I would ask such a question. Jody Abel a film production student said that he could not survive a day without his BB, because of the mere fact that it was a BB, “It takes over your life.” Jody then continued saying, “Blackberry has everything I need; it’s like my life in my pocket. It has e-mail, Mxit, Facebook, Twitter, internet and all social networking sites.” Jody also confessed that Blackberrys receive a lot of flak from the fact that they break easily, “I haven’t met anyone with a blackberry who hasn’t had problems with it within the first three months. The software is crap…”
Common problems among Blackberry users include low battery life, broken or frozen screens, denied access to certain apps with regards to configuration set up and broken keypads. Despite the technical problems BB still has its great advantages. With all the features of the Blackberry phone at your fingertips it’s easy to see how people get hooked to its screen. When everything from the web is in the palm of your hand you no longer have to walk to and switch on a pc monitor or spend copious amounts of money on airtime to get a few messages across to a lot of people.
Blackberrys are like real babies…needy
BBs require constant attention as every second you are alerted by someone who comments on a Facebook photo, a MySpace page or sends a message on BBM. Friends and family may find themselves competing against a cellphone for social interaction and attention. During one date a guy could send his friends an e-mail of how smoking hot his date is, snap a picture of her cleavage and post it instantly on Facebook directly from his BB then sit back and let his phone beep all throughout his date as he receives notifications from Facebook from friends commenting on the cleavage capture. The annoyance stems particularly from those who do not own Blackberrys.
Setting the BB trend
We are fast reaching an era where brand conscious consumers purchase only the best to be part of the latest trends. It is not so much a symbol of wealth, but more of a way to fit in. Idolised celebrities are constantly being watched and have been snapped texting away on the coveted Blackberry. Jarred Walker a student at the University of Cape Town notes that people buy Blackberrys because they see others who have it and want the same, celebrities endorse them. 20 year old Lyndwill Warley who is up to date with the latest phone technology, has a different opinion and says that from the smart phones available, what he would most like was an Iphone, “Blackberry Curve, Pearl, Bold, and Torch…top phones. If you want something better it’s an Iphone.” When asked if he would buy a BB his response was, “No way, it’s way too common.” Jody Abel seems to disagree and believes that people tend to look down on those who do not have BBs claiming that the world would be better if everyone owned a BB phone.
The Blackberry craze has swept across the world and entered the homes of many people. You either have a BB, want a BB or jealous of the guy next door who has a BB. Cramming computer programmes into phones has made people dependant on their cellphones to take care of every aspect of their lives. Communication for business has been made easier and the applications prove to be useful for times when you are lost in Khayalitsha and need a map to get out. We have to ask though, at what expense? BBs have become addictive and consumers are moving further away from real interactions and further into a world where they await the next great smart phone with more features to enhance your social networking experience and status among friends. Soon the world will call for smart phones to be the norm and when that time comes can you affirmatively answer the question: “Do you speak blackberry?”
Check out the BBM music video by Liquid Deep!