Thursday, October 13, 2011

The BlackBerry Apocalypse

Slap me in the face and call me Sally. I have to admit that I have the Techno-addiction. My BlackBerry have become like an additional limb and an electronic enhancement to my frontal lobe. I use it extensively and I never quite realized to what extend it has become an integral part of my life. After all, a wide variety of personal electronic devices and cyber platforms are all conveniently integrated and instead of having to carry around several different gadgets you only have one. And when that one device fails you, as I found out this week, you are screwed, screwed without foreplay, an explanation, consideration, KY or the option of a happy ending.

What makes this worse is the fact that when are at the precipice of such a electronic fail fuckfest you don’t even realize it and once you do there is nothing to prepare you for what is to come. My BlackBerry has not been working for the last three days and RIM (Research in Motion and NOT that thing you do to your boyfriend’s ass) ignored us. In the wake of the worst outage and Public Relations disaster by BlackBerry and RIM, and looking at my lifeless BlackBerry not being as smart a phone as it was four days earlier, I could not help but wonder – is this the beginning of the end for BlackBerry?

On Monday I was preparing for a business trip which I was leaving for on Tuesday. This time I was planning on driving instead of flying (carbon emissions & reducing my carbon footprint and all) and as such I needed to load the relevant addresses and coordinates onto my Garmin GPS on my BlackBerry. I managed to load two addresses successfully before the first inkling of the impending crisis arose.

As I was searching for the third address I got a “server connection error”. I tried several more times and got the same error. Thinking it was only a temporary glitch with Garmin, I decided to take a break to check my Twitter account. The last Twitter feed was recorded at 12:04pm. Oblivious to the fact that the BlackBerry apocalypse had started, I tried to refresh my Twitter feed and nothing happened. I checked my Facebook and that was dead too. So I hard rebooted my phone and at 13:12 it became clear - my phone was busted!

Firmly believing it was a problem with my phone; I logged onto Twitter via my laptop and asked whether anyone of my followers knew of any problem(s) with BlackBerry. Then the floodgates opened and #BlackBerry was being flooded with angry messages. BlackBerry was down in Africa. “What the fuck? How is that possible?” I thought.

Then Twitter messages streamed in from Asia and Europe, BlackBerry was down there too! Naturally thinking that BlackBerry would be aware that millions of people’s services were down, I checked out @BlackBerryHelp on Twitter. @BlackBerryHelp was tweeting everything except about the outage. If I didn’t know any better I would have thought BlackBerry didn’t know something was wrong. Naturally, my next step was to check out RIM’s website hoping to find a press release or at least some information about what was going on. What I found was astounding.
For two days RIM did not respond with a concise explanation. Only yesterday did they decide to release a vague explanation about this international crisis. Apparently some “switch” failed and the backup “switch” failed also, resulting in an epic fail for BlackBerry affecting Europe, Asia, Africa, Canada, North America and South America. Curiously, RIM also added that they have not been hacked and that the integrity of their systems has not been compromised. In the meantime all the pompous IPhone users were laughing their asses off at all the distraught BlackBerry users, but the biggest giggles I think must have come from Steve Jobs. As for me I was still being screwed and it was no laughing matter.

Being away from an Internet connection I was completely cut off from the outside world. No Facebook, no Twitter, no News RSS feeds and no damn GPS. I was out of town, at a place I don’t know from shit, completely isolated and I had to go places blind. Do you know when last I actually used a real map? Back in 2004, that’s when! I had no BBM, had no clue what was going on and I was reduced to using text messages. TEXT MESSAGES!

My 48 hour business trip could have easily gone awry had it not been for my natural instincts and a vague memory of how things were done back in the mid 90’s. I made it to all my appointments and manage to find my way back home. The 600 bucks speeding fine I got (which is a whole different blog post altogether) I also blame on the BlackBerry blackout! When I got home I went onto the Internet to try to learn more about the outage. I discovered that more sinister than RIM’s lame ass excuse for the blackout is the conspiracy theories that were surfacing. Maybe you have heard some of them.
Isn’t it odd that BlackBerry experienced the worst week ever just as Apple is about to release their new IPhone and applications that will rival and exceed that of BlackBerry? Isn’t it peculiar that BlackBerry had the worst recorded outage in recent history barely a week after the passing of Steve Jobs amidst fears that Apple’s stock price would plummet, but now BlackBerry’s stock price did instead? Why did RIM insist on saying they were not hacked or compromised, maybe they were. If they had been all affected BlackBerry users may have been unknowingly pick pocketed and your e-mail-, social media- and even bank accounts could have been compromised, your passwords stolen and not to mention all that “personal information” stored on their servers possibly now not being so “personal” or “private” anymore. Is all of this just one big coincident, I’ll let you decide for yourself?

With what must have been the worst week for BlackBerry since they started back in 1999, I cannot help but wonder if they will ever fully recover. I am sure that their Public Relations crisis management or the lack thereof will be studied in business schools for years to come. As for consumer confidence, I am not sure it will ever be fully restored. After all, this is not the first time this has happened, but unfortunately for them this time it happened on a much larger scale. The fact that there was no communication from them in this regard also did not help matters or boost confidence either.

With RIM already struggling with delays in getting new phones out, a tablet that's been a dud, shares that are approaching a five-year low and sales noticeably down, could this be the beginning of the end for them? I guess only time will tell. As for me, I am due for an upgrade in 2012 and whether I will choose BlackBerry again is largely undecided. I do love my IPod, maybe it is time to get a matching IPone?

Till next time.


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